Social Protection

Building social protection floors
and comprehensive social security systems


Inclusive social protection for persons with disabilities


There is increasing evidence confirming that persons with disabilities are more exposed to risk of poverty[i] due to barriers in accessing employment, education and health care as well as disability related costs[ii] and lack of access to support services. It is also widely acknowledged that social protection is critical to support the inclusion of persons as disabilities as reflected at global level within the SDGs and the Addis Ababa Agenda for Action and at regional level in initiatives such as the UN-ESCAP Incheon strategy implementation[iii] and the recent UN ESCWA report[iv].

Despite these acknowledgements, the majority of persons with disabilities do not enjoy social protection coverage and adequate benefits. Only 27.8% of persons with severe disabilities worldwide receive a disability benefit, while wide regional discrepancies in coverage are significant: for instance almost universal in Eastern Europe compared to 9.4% coverage in Asia & Pacific.

The development of social protection systems needs to support the full and effective participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities. In particular, it is important to ensure that national social protection floors are fully inclusive of persons with disabilities and support their full participation in society and the economy. There are many challenges that need to be addressed and there is currently a growing momentum among stakeholders to invest in this critical area.


This workspace provides a knowledge-sharing forum on promoting social protection for inclusion of persons with disabilities. It is mainly aimed at experts and practicioners from governments, social partners, UN agencies, bilateral and multilateral development agencies, DPOs, NGOs and academia. It aims in particular at:

  • Taking stock of the on-going efforts done by different stakeholders to promote social protection for inclusion of persons with disabilities and tackle critical related issues.
  • Identifying further work to be done and areas for cooperation on research, capacity building and technical assistance. 


Key issues addressed include:

  • Eligibility/gate keeping and graduation criteria, disability assessment
  • Disability specific schemes design and adequacy
  • Access to mainstream schemes and link with other supports such as contributory schemes, universal health protection and support services
  • Costing and impact evaluation
  • Financing
  • Disability-related social protection reforms
  • Plans for cooperation and further work


Joint statement 

The 2018 Joint statement “Towards inclusive social protection systems supporting full and effective participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities”, represents a consensus among some UN agencies, bilateral development agencies, DPOs and NGOs of the key issues to tackled and the direction of reforms to undertake to build inclusive social protection systems.



Project "Towards Inclusive Social Protection Systems To Advance the Rights of Persons with Disabilities" (2019-20)

Building on the process facilitated by ILO and International Disability Alliance (IDA) that led to the adoption of a joint statement on inclusive social protectionm and the current momentum on universal social protection, the UNPRPD funded project, implemented jointly by ILO and UNICEF in close cooperation with IDA seeks the collaborative development of capacity across countries, DPOs, development agencies and academia to support reforms towards inclusive social protection systems fostering inclusion and empowerment, in compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

The main components of the project are:

  • Collaborative production of thematic background papers reviewing recent or on-going reforms and proposing possible policy solutions to promote to disability inclusive social protection systems
  • Contribution to mainstreaming disability-inclusive social protection in Inter-Agency Social Protection Assessment (ISPA) tools
  • Joint learning with countries engaged in reform towards inclusive social protection through provision of technical assistance
  • Support to effective DPO engagement in national dialogues on social protection strategies and policy reforms to make social protection systems more inclusive
  • Development of technical guidance documents and training modules for inclusive social protection systems

See Concept Note


COVID-19 response

[i] Banks, L. M., Kuper, H., & Polack, S. (2017). Poverty and disability in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review. PLoS ONE12(12), e0189996.

[ii] Mitra, Sophie et al (2017) Extra costs of living with a disability: A review and agenda for research. Disability and Health Journal , Volume 10 , Issue 4 , 475 – 484

[iii] High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Midpoint Review of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022,

[iv] UNESCWA (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia). 2017. Strengthening Social Protection of Persons with Disabilities in the Framework of the 2030 Agenda.

3209 Joint statement
2806 Legal instruments
2814 Reports
2815 Other material
3376 UNPRPD project
3429 June - September 2019
3130 April 2016
3374 January 2015
2988 July 2015