The Arab Reform Initiative (ARI) has launched its research project on “Social Protection in the Arab Region during and in the aftermath of the COVID era”, which aims to analyze the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable and marginalized social groups in the Arab region, given the prevailing social protection systems and their contribution to promoting or undermining social justice.
ARI is undertaking this project in collaboration with a group of Arab think tanks (“The Policy Initiative”, Lebanon; the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, Tunisia; the Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, Jordan; the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights; Egypt) and independent Arab media outlets (Daraj Media, Mada Masr, and Inkyfada), with the financial support of International Development Research Center (IDRC). [*] The Arab Hub for Social Protection from COVID is an intellectual forum that aims at monitoring, documenting and analyzing the responses of various State and non-State actors, including governments, NGOs, the private sector, unorganized initiatives, etc., to the Corona pandemic. It was established in attempt to understand the impact of these responses on a wide array of socio-economic indicators, with a focus on inequality, vulnerability and gender justice, and with a particular attention to social protection systems as one of the most important channels leading to social justice. This research project and consortium covers the four aforementioned countries as national case studies, as they largely reflect the status quo of the Arab regional landscape.
In this context, ARI and its seven partners officially launched the first events of the “Hub” during a webinar entitled “The genesis and the evolution of the concept of social protection in the Arab region” which took place on February 18, 2021 – two days before the “International day of Social Justice”. This webinar served as reflection on the moments of configuration of the concept of social protection in the Arab region and how it has emerged and developed across history in various countries of the region. It also shed the light on the ensuing changes and transformations such as the types of institutions and their mechanisms, and the repercussions of the neoliberal policies of the international financial institutions in the Arab region.
This webinar involved three speakers, Adib Nehmeh, Rana Jawad and Mohamed Jouili, and touched on the clash between macroeconomics and political history in shaping social protection in the region, as well as on the most dominant forms of social protection systems and the role of local, regional and global institutions in determining their frameworks. It tapped into the role of the States in improving these systems and making them more just, more inclusive and more sustainable. Speakers addressed the issue at hand from different perspectives, which enriched the debate and provided a philosophical analysis reflecting the radical change in the expectations and requirements of Arab societies today, as they became – as one speaker described them – “individualistic societies focused on private interests at the expense of the public good”. This is a fait accompli coupled with policies based on rent seeking and materialism, which look to increase economic growth rates while overlooking the quality of this growth and the importance of being accompanied by an increase in employment opportunities and an equitable distribution of wealth, in order to guarantee well-being and decent life standards for all social groups alike — especially those vulnerable and marginalized.
This webinar has been launched to also kick start a series of webinars organized by the Hub as part of its research project, and has helped to present the notion of social protection and social justice from a conceptual perspective all while setting the frame for the subsequent webinars and forthcoming project outputs.
As such, on behalf of the Arab Hub for Social Protection from COVID, the Arab Reform Initiative invites you to look into the work and outputs of this research project which are published on the Hub’s official website and social media pages:
Official website: https://socialprotection.arabregionhub.net/en/
Hub’s Facebook page: facebook.com/AHSPC19
Hub’s Twitter page: https://twitter.com/ahspc19
Hub’s Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/ahspc19/
Hub’s YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEhmRSoRfkuas6Jklge8HYA
[*] The opinions expressed below (including during the Webinar) do not necessarily represent those of the International Development Research Centre or its Board of Directors