Why Does Social Protection Matter?

Marie-Thérèse Leprince

In the video below, French ATD activist Marie-Thérèse Leprince answers the question, ‘Why does social protection matter?’ More videos on this subject can be found at “World video tour of social protection” on the web site of Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.

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Impacts of lockdown in France

I’m an international Activist for ATD Fourth World in France. Like all people living in poverty, it has also been hard for me during lockdown, because we live in housing without proper sanitation. Usually it’s very cramped too.

We were afraid to go outside and get a fine that we couldn’t pay1. Our children had to home school, even though we lacked the means. We were also scared of getting Covid and giving it to our children.

I also think about families whose children are in foster homes, who couldn’t have visits during the lockdowns.

“I still feel privileged”

But I still feel privileged compared to other countries like the Philippines, Guatemala, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, and many others where people in poverty don’t have a social safety net.

I think about all the families who live off informal work, like recycling rubbish or collecting scrap metal. During lockdown, they weren’t allowed to do this work. So what do we do? Leave people to die because they can’t work? This is how they earned a living to support their families. This isn’t right. It made me angry.

The second point is access to healthcare. There are still too many people in the world who don’t have access to healthcare.

During Covid they asked everyone to respect social distancing and take certain sanitary measures. But in some places, families don’t have soap and water. How can they follow these directions when they don’t even have that? I think everyone needs to really see this pandemic as a fight that must be fought and won.

  1. In France during lockdown, there were rules about places people could go and fines for not complying.
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