University of Bath

Social protection policies in the Middle East and North African region (MENA)

An IPR Policy Brief to examine social welfare systems in the MENA region.

Governments and international development agencies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are taking a greater interest in issues of social welfare and social protection. Yet there is little clarity as to what social protection might mean or how it might be organised in a region which has, so far, not developed a clear political rationale for equality and social rights.

This policy brief presents research undertaken by Dr Rana Jawad (University of Bath) which began in 2000 into the social welfare systems in the MENA region. It offers a broad mapping of the institutional structures that underpin social policy there, and highlights the complex interplay of informal social assistance for vulnerable groups who cannot work and employment-based welfare provision which gives preference to male and public sector workers.

A number of recommendations are made for the development of new social policies in the region, and the role civil and religious activism can potentially play.