As digital services become increasingly important in social security delivery, the aspect of digital inclusion is fundamental for equitable access to services. Together with the United Nations University Operating Unit on Policy-Driven Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV), the International Social Security Association (ISSA) has published a comprehensive report on this topic.
While digitalization of social security systems and services has been a longstanding trend, the COVID-pandemic accelerated this development. Despite the fact that digital interactions with social security has become a normality for many people, still today 3.5 billion people do not have the opportunity or means to access the internet. While the results of digitalization of social security has overall been positive, the importance of understanding the challenges, opportunities and solutions linked to digital inclusion has become crucial to address challenges like lack of digital skills and limited or unaffordable internet access.
The new report Digital inclusion: Improving social security service delivery builds on a study that came out of a cooperation agreement with UNU-EGOV. The cooperation included a series of webinars in 2021, which also enabled to reach out with polls and surveys to participating representatives of social security organizations worldwide. These actions have contributed to new data and knowledge about digital inclusion in social security that fed into the new report.
According to the report, digital inclusion should be understood as the elimination of the digital divide by ensuring literal access, in conjunction with the requisite skills and ability to use digital devices and content confidently, safely, and effectively. It outlines the context of service delivery, technology and inclusion and addresses the key factors at play. Access, skills and capacities and the enabling environment are seen as fundamental for making progress towards digital inclusion in social security, and the report provides a number or recommendations in this regard.
A first draft version of the report was presented at the 16th ISSA International Conference on Information and Communication Technology in Social Security, in Tallinn, Estonia, in May 2022. The World Social Security Forum in Marrakech, Morocco, 24–28 October 2022, will provide an opportunity to further discuss the final report and the various aspects of digital inclusion of social security.