StreetNet establishes a regional platform of demands for social protection issues in Africa

By StreetNet Media
July 18, 2023
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We organized a regional conference on social protection for informal economy workers with WIEGO and FIWON, our Nigerian affiliate, in Lagos (Nigeria), where we designed a regional platform of demands with our affiliates and key partners, such as the Platform for Social Protection and ITUC Africa, to ensure the protection of all African workers. The conference was held on June 21 and 22, 2023.

Social protection as a political priority

Social protection has become a new priority for countries and for development policies. The purpose of the conference was to provide a forum for exchange by talking about and offering potential solutions with representatives of the informal economy and their partners.

There were around 20 trade unionists, both men and women. StreetNet affiliates from 11 different African nations were represented by the following organizations: FIWON, our co-organizer, FAINATRASIT (Togo), KENASVIT (Kenya), AVEMA (Zambia), AZIEA (Zambia), CNTG (Guinea), SYTRIECI (Rwanda), CNTS (Senegal), ZCIEA (Zimbabwe), TUICO (Tanzania), and UNSYNVEPID (Benin).The International Alliance of Waste Pickers, the International Federation of Domestic Workers, HomeNet International, the African Platform for Social Protection, and ITUC Africa were also represented, as well as the National Social Security Authority of Zimbabwe.

Participants working together during the conference

The conference started with an introduction of each participant and the organizations that were in attendance, followed by an overview of the issues and a discussion of the challenges they had to face in their respective countries.

Dr. Ghislaine Saizonou, who oversees social protection and equality issues at ITUC-Africa, explains the significance of this conference by saying that it will serve as a forum for discussion with informal economy workers and a chance to examine any barriers to social protection for those working in the informal economy. “Governments should recognize that more than 40% of GDP of our countries is financed by the taxes paid by informal economy workers. Considering social protection is a right, they must have access to it.”,  she added.

Participants listening to intervention of Nicola Yon, Research Officer of the National Social Security Authority of Zimbabwe

Group work sessions were planned for the second day so that participants could discuss the challenges they share, what can be done to alter this, and how we can successfully complete these tasks.  A discussion with the University of Lagos’ Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development research staff was also organized.

On the third and last day of the conference, we had the presentation of the group work, during which these proponents of social protection put forward solutions and made the proper recommendations. We also had the chance to visit the FIWON cooperative. 

Family photos, a visit to the market, and an evening of dancing marked the event’s conclusion.

Visiting the FIWON Cooperative in Lagos

The role of StreetNet

For StreetNet, this regional platform for social protection issues is the culmination of several years’ work to raise awareness and invest in capacity-building for our affiliates in social protection. As Annie Diouf, Secretary General of the CNTS said:

“StreetNet International has assisted us in advocating for and increasing awareness of the need to improve working conditions for persons in the informal economy in Senegal”.

Social protection is a basic human right. It ensures that everyone has access to healthcare and stable employment. It protects workers and their families in the event of illness, unemployment, injury, pregnancy, or if they are too elderly to work. It provides support for families. Social protection gives peace of mind and hope for a better future. Working together to ensure that all employees in Africa have access to social protection is crucial for this reason.

We are now currently in the process of drafting the text of the regional platform of demands and we will be disseminating the final product soon. Stay tuned!

See the reel summarizing the conference below:

This article was co-written with Youth Reporter Djenabow Sow