More than a billion reasons: The urgent need to build universal social protection

Second ILO–UNICEF joint report on social protection for children

A group of children lying down in circle smiling.


Social protection is a universal human right and a precondition for a world free from poverty. It is also a vital foundation to help the world’s most vulnerable children fulfil their potential and increase their access to food, nutrition, education, and healthcare. 

But worldwide, 1.77 billion children aged 0–18 lack access to a child or family cash benefit, a fundamental pillar of a social protection system. Children are twice as likely to live in extreme poverty as adults. Approximately 800 million children are subsisting below a poverty line of US$3.20 a day, and 1 billion children are experiencing multidimensional poverty. The impact on their lives, communities, societies, and economies can be devastating. 

The second International Labour Organization (ILO) – United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) joint report on social protection for children reflects the shared commitment to strengthening social protection systems and expanding them to reach every child at risk. It explains why universal social protection should become a reality. It also documents the rapid positive changes in countries from Montenegro to Tunisia and the steps needed to accelerate progress.

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