Iran's Welfare System: Towards an Integrated Social Protection System for children and adolescents
Iran is a high-level development country (HDI value of 0.783 in 2019) and with a population of around 85 million withholds a golden opportunity for socio-economic development. However, over the last few years, Iran has faced multiple crises and challenges, starting with first round of sanctions in 2018 and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic, which acerbated socioeconomic vulnerabilities. The Gini index increased from 0.3992 in 2019 to 0.4006 in 2020 and the economic participation declined to 41.3%. The unemployment rate of the youth in Iran is higher than among any other population group (23.7% in 2020). In addition, based on the latest referable national source on poverty before COVID-19, 32 % of people in Iran are multidimensionally poor (2020) .
To have a more resilient economy, the Government is focussing on employment generation by focusing on MSMEs and enhancing livelihoods through increased cash transfers and other relevant socio-economic policies. Moreover, the Government is prioritizing to shift from universal basic income subsidies – to more efficiency and cost effectiveness through more targeted support for the poorest households. Hence a range of social protection measures have been introduced by the Government. However, the scale of needs and the limited fiscal space are factors that are limiting the Government’s ability to address the consequence of the multi-layered crises faced by the country. Iran continues to be highly vulnerable to natural disasters, including earthquakes, droughts and floods. This calls for further strengthening the national social protection system to withstand potential shocks.
UNICEF Iran as the lead of social protection pillar of UN Socioeconomic Response Plan (UNSERP) and co-chair of resilient economy pillar of United Nations Development Assistance Framework Guidance (UNDAF) has been providing technical support to enhance the national social protection system and services towards an integrated, resilient and life cycle based social protection in partnership with the Ministry of Cooperative, Labour & Social Welfare (MCLSW).
The Ministry of Cooperative, Labour & Social Welfare (MCLSW) is the lead technical ministry for social protection and poverty eradication policies in Iran. Iran has made tremendous progress to support vulnerable households through various schemes before and during the COVID pandemic. One of the main achievements in the Iranian social protection sector in recent years is the Iranian Welfare Database (IWD), which is an integrated registry used for several social welfare programmes in the country, including the quasi-universal basic income and the cash assistance provided in response to the pandemic.
Against this background, this webinar aimed to present an overview of the Iranian social protection system for children and adolescents and recent experiences in linking social protection to education and health. In particular, the role of the Iranian Welfare Database as the main data base to identify eligible beneficiaries was discussed. The presentation of the Iranian system was complemented by a presentation on the NUR system in Jordan which serves an integrated child-sensitive MIS for social protection services. Finally, UNICEF MENA Regional Office provided an overview of the organisation´s work in the region on Integrated Child-sensitive Social Protection Policies and System in the region.
Robin Nandy, UNICEF Iran Representative