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The right to social security is of central importance in guaranteeing human dignity for all persons when they are faced with circumstances that deprive them of their capacity to fully realize their human rights.

The right to social security encompasses the right to access and maintain benefits without discrimination in order to secure protection from:

  1. a lack of work-related income caused by sickness, disability, maternity, employment injury, unemployment, old age, or death of a family member;
  2. unaffordable health care; and
  3. insufficient family support, particularly for children and adult dependents.

Social security plays an important role in reducing and alleviating poverty, preventing social exclusion and promoting social inclusion.

Social protections crucial for older persons, persons with disabilities, youth

Social pensions are a critical element of the right to social security for older persons whose human rights enjoyment is endangered without an adequate social pension. Older women are especially at risk. They live longer, and the unpaid care work they perform throughout their life obstructs their ability to access formal employment and therefore contributory social security or decent wages. Social and economic policies should correct this imbalance by promoting equality between women and men instead of deepening the gap. Childcare, for example, should be guaranteed as a social protection measure. The level of benefits for social pensions must ensure an adequate standard of living.

Social protection is key for persons with disabilities to gain independence from families, boost their social participation and support their ability to live with dignity. It can enhance the productivity, employability and economic development of persons with disabilities, and therefore contribute to their income security.

Social protection is crucial in mitigating the negative impacts of unemployment on youth, creating access to further education, facilitating their transition from school to work and improving their labour market opportunities, while securing the enjoyment of at least their core economic and social rights, including their rights to health, food, water and sanitation, education and housing.