Inclusion of persons with disabilities in social protection for COVID-19 recovery and beyond


International Sign Language Interpretation was made available for this session.

Building on the position paper of SPIAC-B and guidance notes from WHO, UNICEF, ILO, and the UNPRPD, the recent UN Secretary-General policy brief on disability-inclusive COVID-19 response highlighted the importance of building sustainable and disability-inclusive social protection systems”, which include “universal disability allowances across the life cycle addressing disability-related extra costs” as well as strengthening community support services. A policy brief was developed by UNPRPD/ILO/UNICEF/IDA on Disability-Inclusive Social Protection Response to COVID-19 crisis response.

Global monitoring of social protection responses shows that 1/3 of countries have adopted specific measures for persons with disabilities, with a focus on extra cash transfer payments and adaptation of delivery, home delivery of essential food and non-food items, and helplines to provide information and in some cases referral for support. Few countries expanded the number of beneficiaries of disability-related cash transfers. 

The COVID-19 crisis has magnified the barriers and inequalities faced by persons with disabilities. Consultation with organisations representing persons with disabilities across regions highlighted the limitation of social protection systems in LMICs to provide adequate support due to lack of social protection schemes, low coverage, and inadequacy of existing schemes. There is little in the way of publicly funded community support services and in some contexts an overreliance on residential institutions, whose users have been disproportionally represented among COVID-19 fatalities. 

In the midst of the crisis, countries have been struggling with inaccessible information (e.g sign language), the lack of universal schemes, and national disability registry for broad outreach and fast relief.

The 1 September webinar aimed at providing a global overview of the social protection response for persons with disabilities and their families as well as the different key social protection issues to consider for an inclusive COVID-19 recovery. This first webinar will be followed by a more technical webinar on 29 October, which will address issues of disability identification, design of cash transfers, and linkage with support services, education, and employment.


Alex Cote, UNPRPD-ILO-UNICEF Inclusive Social Protection program

Meenakshi Balasubramanian, Centre for Inclusive Policy

Fatma Wangare, Inclusion Africa

Karishma Huda, Makhota program Indonesia 

Joaozito dos Santos, Ra'es Hadomi Timor Oan

Moderator: Felicity O’Brien, Social Protection Section, DFAT


This was the first webinar of the Disability Inclusive Social Protection Series. The series is organised by Australia DFAT in partnership with the ILO-UNICEF inclusive social protection initiative supported by the UNPRPD COVID-19 joint program. This webinar was also the thirtieth session of the “Social protection responses to COVID-19” webinar series. The series is a joint effort initiated by the IPC-IGGIZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the Australia Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) collaboration with the platform, and in cooperation with partners from different organisations. Join the online community ''Social protection responses to COVID-19 [Task force]'' to learn more about the initiative and future webinars.