Our regional partner in Jordan, Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD), held a policy lab on Thursday 10 June.
The policy lab is part of ARDD’s effort to enhance social dialogue in the context of social policy in Jordan, and it follows a series of policy labs held during 2020. On this occasion, the policy lab looked into the role of cooperatives and unions in ensuring inclusive social protection and social assistance.
The panellists included experts and practitioners in the field who elaborated on the challenges surrounding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on almost all aspects of life, and how the crisis is exacerbating pre-existing problems such as poverty and unemployment.
Many Arab states have a strong history of trade unionism, which played a decisive role in the Arab Spring protests of 2011. Therefore, the discussants focused on how these organisations could help alleviate poverty in the region; economically through stimulating economic growth, democratically though providing a framework for better economic participation, and socially through building capacity and trust between groups in society otherwise divided along ethnic, religious or political lines.
The panellists discussed the different possibilities that cooperatives and unions could offer to enhance the social protection of its members, but also the challenges these organisations face in Jordan (i.e. legislation limiting their role, governmental interventions to curb their role; internal limited capacities to represent workers).
However, cooperatives and unions still face many obstacles in alleviating poverty in the region. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), these include poor relations with the state, lack of independence, inability to access finance and reliance on donors, poor performance management, weak institutions and inequality.
The event included participants from organisations such as the ILO, World Food Programme, MENA Social Policy Network and Development Pathways.
To read more about the social policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the MENA region, read our paper here