Webinar debates the role of social assistance services in the challenges of social inclusion

Photo: SeventyFour/Canva

The International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) held a webinar with representatives from the governments of Morocco and Tunisia on the role of social services in the challenges related to social inclusion. The webinar entitled “The challenge of social inclusion (of vulnerable populations): What is the role of social services and workers” was hosted by the socialprotection.org platform on 6 April 2022 and was the fourth session of the “Reforms of social protection systems: South-South and triangular cooperation initiative in the context of the Maghreb" series, which is an initiative of the project Facilitation of south-south learning sessions on social protection systems between Maghreb and Latin American countries

This series aims to create a space for sharing experiences between Morocco, Tunisia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. It is an initiative funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and organised in partnership with the World Bank, the French Development Agency (AFD) and the IPC-IG.  

The session featured two representatives from Brazil as guest speakers: Carla Bronzo, Researcher and Professor at the Escola de Governo Paulo Neves de Carvalho, from the Fundação João Pinheiro, linked to the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais; and Magali Basile, Secretary of Social Assistance and Development of the city of Atibaia, in the state of São Paulo. The event was moderated by Fábio Veras, Senior Research Coordinator at the IPC-IG and the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea) of Brazil’s Ministry of Economy, and Remy Pigois, Social Policy Manager at UNICEF Maghreb (Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Libya). 

Ms. Bronzo’s presentation focused on financing and the participatory and decentralised management model of the Brazilian Unified Social Assistance System (Sistema Único de Assistência Social—SUAS), which aims to guarantee social protection through the provision of social services and benefits to Brazil’s vulnerable populations. Ms. Basile, in turn, focused on the status, training and role of social workers at the local level and the evolution of social inclusion, particularly regarding the country’s flagship cash transfer programme—Bolsa Família

One question in particular regarding the feasibility of having a child benefit programme without a network of social services—including trained social workers—sparked lively discussion among the experts. According to Ms. Bronzo, although such a programme would be feasible, it would not be sufficient to reduce poverty, as it is a multidimensional issue. The benefits only tackle monetary poverty. However, the Brazilian experience has shown that social workers play a central role in reducing health and nutrition deprivation, as well as lack of housing, education and access to basic public services. Ms. Basile concluded the discussion by highlighting that the needs of Bolsa Família beneficiaries go beyond the monetary transfer, because they are people who have suffered numerous violations of their fundamental rights. Thus, the strengthening of social ties, referral and case management carried out by the social workers are essential for overcoming situations of violence and vulnerability and fostering social inclusion. 

The webinar aimed to support the efforts of Tunisia and Morocco towards the social inclusion of their vulnerable populations through the role of social services. It also considered the national priorities of each country and the specificities of their contexts. It encouraged the exchange of knowledge, shared experiences and identified good practices adopted among developing countries in the global South. As in the previous sessions of the series, attendance was limited to the guests only, aiming to maximise interactions and discussions between government representatives on the challenges facing their countries.  


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