Social Protection Reforms in the Mena Region: Possibilities and Challenges.
The COVID-19 crisis revealed a significant gap in access to public services and highlighted significant issues with regards to government responsiveness to the immediate consequences of the pandemic. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in particular, social protection systems are relatively weak and have been strained, already in the pre-pandemic period, by several challenges and disfunctions.
In such context, vulnerable groups – including informal workers, women, children and the elderly – are particularly exposed to the economic and social consequences of the pandemic, particularly to loss of income and unemployment. While there is clear evidence that social protection systems have a positive impact on the lives of populations in times of crisis, but they need to be comprehensive and with a high rate of coverage.
What is the state of social protection mechanisms before and during the COVID-19 crisis in the MENA? What are the social protection responses of state and non-state actors to the pandemic? How can the current crisis be turned into an opportunity to reshape these social protection systems in a more inclusive way? What policies could the EU adopt to support social protection reform in the Southern Neighbourhood? To read the whole report
Possibilities and Challenges: Social Protection and COVID-19 Crisis in Jordan
The social protection systems in Jordan face significant challenges, which undermine the country’s ability to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The Jordanian government has taken measures to curb the spread of the pandemic but could not establish an effective plan to protect the most vulnerable groups who lack access to advanced social protection systems. The government of Jordan has developed several programmes to cushion the social and economic effects of the pandemic on the most venerable workers in the country. This report describes the different programmes and the mechanisms used to reach the country’s most vulnerable groups. It focuses specifically on informal workers, women, and the youth. The report also shows that Jordan has used its existing social protection systems to reach vulnerable people through emergency cash transfer programmes, either by expanding the already existing programme or creating new ones. The Jordanian government’s responsiveness and effectiveness were conditioned and restrictive towards women, informal workers, and refugees. This report analyses the government’s response in an attempt to identify gaps in the Jordanian social protection system and how it can be further developed.
Formation of an Identity: Arabic language in Sweden
The Arabic language and identity have played a significant role in the lives of Arabic-speaking immigrants in Sweden. With a sizable population of Arabic-speaking immigrants, the Swedish government is perceiving Arabic as one of the country’s growing minority languages. This has allowed for more significant representation of the language in public spaces, media, and education, thus contributing to the maintenance of Arabic language and identity.
Arabic-speaking immigrants in Sweden come from different countries(Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon) with diverse dialects and cultures, making it a challenge to maintain a cohesive Arabic identity. Despite this, many immigrants find comfort and connection through their shared language and heritage, creating a sense of belonging and community. The Arabic language is often used in private spaces, such as homes and social gatherings, to maintain and strengthen ties to their culture and homeland. Yet, the informal recognition of Arabic language by the swedish government’s can be seen in official documents, advertisements, and right to interpreters which also contributed to its use in public spaces.
Arabic signage is often seen in shopping centers, schools, hospitals, tax authorities, and public transportation, making it easier for Arabic-speaking immigrants and Arabic-speakers to navigate and access services. These signage are mostly seen in the main cities, but also in cities that have a growing number of Arabic-speaking populations. Additionally, Arabic language media has grown significantly in Sweden, with several television and radio channels and newspapers catering to the Arabic-speaking community.
The use of Arabic in education has also been encouraged in recent years. Swedish schools now offer Arabic language courses, allowing students to learn their heritage language alongside Swedish. This initiative has been beneficial for Arabic-speaking students who may have struggled with learning Swedish as a second language. It also promotes the value of Arabic language and identity in Swedish society, contributing to the integration of Arabic-speaking immigrants into Swedish culture.
The Arabic language and identity have also faced challenges in Sweden. The political climate surrounding immigration and integration has at times been hostile towards Arabic-speaking immigrants, leading to discrimination and marginalization. This has made it difficult for some immigrants to maintain their cultural and linguistic identity in public spaces, leading to feelings of isolation and exclusion. Furthermore, some Arabic-speaking immigrants may feel pressure to assimilate and adopt Swedish culture to integrate successfully. This can lead to a loss of cultural and linguistic identity, which can have long-term effects on mental health and wellbeing.
In conclusion, the Arabic language and identity are significant factors in the lives of Arabic-speaking immigrants in Sweden. This paper examines the role of Arabic as a language in formation and preservation of identifies of immigrates, and how the Swedish formal institutes provide a tool in Arabic to integrate Arabic-speaking immigrates in the society. It also discusses schools, public spaces among other factors that Arabic language presents an opportunity but also a challenge.