Right to Sustainable Livelihood and Social Protection

*This is an excerpt from PKKK’s Rural Women Status Report on CEDAW 2011.

ILO defines social protection as a set of policies and programs such as labor market programs, social insurance, social equity, child protection and social assistance and welfare.[1] To many rural women organizations in PKKK in may be in the form of “damayan, paluwagan or aniban” or self help informal social protection schemes.[2]  In the last two years PKKK advocated for social services, support services and jobs instead of conditional cash transfer that the former and the new government promote.  [3]Further PKKK posits that social protection should be universal and not voluntary.

Three Focus Group Discussions among rural and indigenous women was conducted in Aurora and Nueva Ecija[4]. Household farm production is very low due to the small size of their farms.   The research reported that rural and indigenous household has diversified income sources to adapt to their situation.   Microfinance services such as ASKI, Joyful Business, MADECO and Producer are present.  Some members access Philhealth, SSS, SEA K and others.  Also, the economic and social services from the government are limited.

Limited access to land, high cost of farm inputs and low production endangers the food security in the household.  Because of changing food preference of young members of the household there is an increase expenditure on food.  Before they would eat rootcrops but now they prefer rice and processed food.

Rural and indigenous women do not fully enjoy programs  and services of the government except for 20% discount of senior citizens. When women do not have social protection service they rely on their social networks such family and friends.  Health, education and housing services are also limited.

The access of rural women and indigenous women to sustainable livelihood and social protection is limited.  This is due to several factors such as lack of access to productive resources, lack of access to income and vulnerability to effects of climate change.  Access to productive resources includes access to land, technology, capital, education and training.  Access to income is necessary for rural women and indigenous women capacity to pay for social insurance, food security, health and housing.   Climate change impacts further the vulnerability of rural and indigenous women to landslide, flash flood, loss of lives, property and crops.

Several  instruments  and laws support the claim to sustainable livelihood and social protection of rural and indigenous women.  The International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights cite laws on labor, right to social security, equal pay for equal work, rest and leisure, standard of living for health and well-being, education and participation in the community’s cultural life. [5] The ICESCR gave birth to international conventions like CEDAW, ILO and CRC.

Section 27 of the Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710) provides for the social protection and sustainable livelihood.  The Social Reform Agenda  (RA  8425) creates the People’s Development Trust Fund as source of microfinance, livelihood and microenterprise, savings and credit.   The Senior Citizens Center Act of the Philippines (RA 7876) grants senior citizens with social services, comprehensive health care, earning opportunities, education and training.  The SSS Law expanded its coverage to farmers, fisherfolks, housewives and self employed to cover the informal workers.  The Philhealth law provides for sponsorship program to the poorest 25% of the population.  The Solo Parents Welfare Act  of 2000 (RA 8972) entitles single parents for social development services, education and training.

Prof. Barrameda recommends a transformative social protection framework for rural and indigenous women based on the following principles. These include women centeredness, gender responsiveness, holistic and integrated, transformative, rights based, inclusive, participatory and empowerment oriented, capability and strength focused and sustainable.


[1]               International  Labor Organization definition of social protection

[2]               PKKK Documentation on Social Protection orientation 2009

[3]               PKKK Rural Women’s Day Statement October 2010

[4]              Prof. Titanne Barrameda.  Research Report on Social Protection Needs of Rural Women in Farming and Indigenous Communities in Aurora and Nueva Ecija. PKKK, 2011.

[5]              Andag, R., & Icayan, J.A. (2010). Living in the margins: Economic, social and cultural rights in an urban and a rural community. Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights).

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