Policy advocacy and partnership for children’s rights

Social policy: The issue


UNICEF in action

© UNICEF/HQ97-0308/Shehzad Noorani
BANGLADESH: The embroidered edge of her dress in his mouth, a boy holds his mother's hand as he stands in front of her in the village of Bhaluka, Mymensingh district.

ROSA’s Social Policy Cluster, created with the new UNICEF MTSP in 2005, centers on research, policy development, advocacy and awareness raising in the areas of social protection, social exclusion and disparities, and child poverty, to inform governments, partners and academics.  It works with partners at the regional and global levels, such as the South Asia Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and sister agencies in the UN system, to identify social policy gaps, and provides support for country-based and regional initiatives. The Social Policy Section is currently engaged in advocacy efforts with the SAARC Secretariat on improving social protection systems in South Asia, in support of MDG 1 as a critical area determining the overall progress in basic services-related MDGs of health, education, and water and sanitation.

The Section woks on two main tracks: i) conceptual and analytical work, which includes knowledge management; and ii) policy advice, capacity building and advocacy.  Conceptually, the Section has consolidated new approaches to examining the socio-economic situation in South Asia through the lens of social exclusion and transformative social policy.  The research and advocacy work has translated into numerous analytical, discussion and think pieces on social policy approaches in South Asia, an inventory of good practices, policies and programs implemented by governments in the region, as well as fiscal budget reviews.  These analyses comprise lessons learned on the sustainability of investments and outcomes of social policy.  The research also provides insights into mechanisms that effectively address social exclusion and identify social, financial, or political obstacles that must be overcome towards increasing universal access to basic social services.  These evidence-based outputs are used as advocacy tools by the Section regionally and at country level and also by the UNICEF Country Offices in their interactions and deliberations with governments, civil society, academics, and donors.

In the area of policy advice and capacity building, accomplishments range from addressing the need for comprehensive and child-sensitive social protection, to examining the implications of the food price crisis and fiscal stimulus packages on the situation of children.  To the extent possible, the Section has always engaged in addressing current challenges and seizes policy advocacy opportunity as they arise.

Some milestones include

  • the ROSA Workshop on Social Inclusion and Social Policy organized in conjuction with the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre and the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) (2006) which discussed the issue of mainstreaming child rights and instilling a rights-based approach into development thinking, and contributing to processes that would ensure more equitable social outcomes.  Click here to go to the workshop webpage  where you can learn more about the need for transformative social policy in South Asia, and access video clips and participants’ presentations as well as an analytical report of the workshop.
  • Regional Policy-Maker Symposia on Social Policy and Social Inclusion (2007) and on Social Protection (2008), the Regional Training on Social Policy and Social Inclusion (2007), the Regional Inter-agency MDGI consultation on MDG-based planning for development (2007); the regional consultation with the SAARC Secretariat on developing a regional framework for socio economic security, and the Regional Technical Meeting on Child Poverty and Disaprities 2008.
  • The Section delivered five country training in Social Policy in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and organised numberous seminars, workshops and consultations on child development-related issues regionally and in cooperation with country colleagues.
  • Much of the Section's work was made possible due to the generous grants from the Government of Australia and Government of the United Kingdom, which have supported work in social inclusion and social policy, social protection and more. 

The Section works with the UNICEF Department of Public Policy, the Innocenti Research Centre and the UNICEF Country Offices in South Asia, as well as with a network of social policy advisors and social policy advocates across UNICEF and UN entities such as UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP),  UN Development Programe (UNDP),   UNDP Regional Centre Colombo (RCC), UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), UN Department for Economic and Social Development (UNDESA), ILO Geneva, ILO Regional Office for South Asia and others. The purpose is to raise awareness about the situation of children in South Asia and advocate for change as an authoritative and trustworthy voice.



For every child
Health, Education, Equality, Protection