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ASEAN NGOs discuss social protection for vulnerable groups
Representatives of NGOs from ASEAN and other countries and of Vietnamese institutionsand ministries gathered at a workshop  on “Expanding Social Protection for Vulnerable Groups Towards Addressing Inequality under ASEAN Integration”. 
The event was held by the Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation in coordination with the German Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, ActionAid International Vietnam and the Philippine Network for Transformative Social Protection in Vung Tau City, Southern Vietnam, from 13-14 October 2016.
Social protection legal framework for vulnerable groups in the region were mentioned: ASEAN’s Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2025, Declaration on Strengthening Social Protection and Regional Framework and Action Plan, the 2016-2020 Work Plans of SOMSWD, SLOM and ACW…, at the same time a legal bind of only a few of these pointed out. The participants discussed regional integration’s impacts and practices of social protection for the groups.
Mr. Nguyen Van Cu, deputy director of  the Vietnam’s Center for Disability Research and Capacity Development, Mr. Le Quang Duong, director of the Viethealth shared their experiences to help vulnerable groups with a focus on inspring and providing them with capacity building, and changing societal attitude towards vulnerable groups. Ms. USA Khiewrord, regional program manager of the Help Age International presented a social pension model for the elderly in Thailand, emphasizing the positive changes produced as well as challenges remaining such as exclusion of those incapable of proving their citizenship and sustainability of the program going on.
Regarding information sharing limitations, Mr. Tran Minh Hai, director of the Centre Tuong Lai (The Future) said 70% of local NGOs do not receive sufficient information via government channels about social protection. 
The workshop elaborated on migrant workers’ issues such as decent job, regionally equal minimum wages, standard working conditions, unemployment rate increase, role of government, enterprises and civil organizations in assisting vulnerable groups to improve the quality of their life with social protection as a means. Attention was drawn to the 90% of persons with disabilities in Vietnam not benefiting much from social assistance.
The participants raised alarm viz-a-viz Trans-Pacific Partnership’s impact on vulnerable groupsin general, andnational development strategies in the region particularly.  Mr. Sumitha Shaanthinni Kishna, assistant director of the Malaysia Bar Council stated the necessity to consult different stakeholders -- CSOs, trade unions and employee groups in the process of negotiations with a view to ensuring people’s interests.
Ms. Liliane Danso Dahmen, director of the South East Asia Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung expressed views on global social rights which can be fully realized only in a post-capitalistic social order.
According to Ms. Francine Mestrum, chairperson of the Global Social Justice, social protection can be a correction mechanism to avoid the worst consequences of the economic system/exploitation; economic integration cannot exist without social integration, and social justice serves as precondition for peace - as it was already mentioned in the ILO constitution of 1919 - hence good social protection can help relieve the stress of political issues.
Also discussed from different angles were other issues possibly affecting social protection like tax justice, public-social or community enterprise partnership on delivery of essential services and labor or wage policy reforms.
The participants proposed change thinking about social protection’s meaning as a means to guarantee its inclusiveness and comprehensiveness, to share experiences among countries in ASEAN as well as with other countries in the world, to enhance NGOs’ role in implementing social protection for all, and to perfect the universal legal framework for social protection. 
The workshop dwelled on the roles and coordination of people’s organizations’/ CSOs’ actions to improve social protection for vulnerable groups, worked out a number of recommendations to advocate policies to guarantee rights and improve interests of and social protection for vulnerable groups.
After the workshop, international and national participants took part in a field trip toa local childcare home as a model of providing social protection for children, strengthening the regional network.

 

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