ISSA: Nurturing Social Security in the Global Community

Manila Bulletin, October 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

ISSA: Nurturing Social Security in the Global Community


Byline: CORAZON S. DE LA PAZ SSS President & CEO

PLEASE allow me to take this opportunity to extend my personal thanks to the Peoples Republic of China for hosting the 28th General Assembly of the ISSA and this 32nd session of the ISSA Council. I also wish to congratulate the ISSA leadership and Secretariat and all participants for a very successful conference. It was a great opportunity to learn from each other, renew old friendships and form new ones. It also allowed us to have a stronger resolve to work even more for social security and social justice.

When ISSA was founded in 1927 in Belgium, discussions on social security were largely regional and essentially European. Over time, the membership of ISSA has become more international. Today, ISSA has over 380 member organizations in some 145 countries. That China is hosting this ISSA Conference reflects how remarkably far ISSA has come along, and how social security developments have truly become a global concern.

Asia is home to close to 60 percent of the worlds population. There is a strong consensus that Asia is now the most dynamic part of the world. This dynamism must be harnessed to the advantage of all ISSA member-countries. It is a good time to bring in the Asian perspective to set the directions for ISSA in the next triennium. Today, for the very first time, ISSA has this opportunity to open its leadership to Asia.

Now, more than ever, I believe Asia is poised to make even more significant contributions to ISSAs accumulated body of knowledge on social security. The "baby boomers" of Asia are set to retire as well. Globalization has created the phenomenon of migrant workers that is uniquely Asian. Huge segments of the Asian population continue to work in the informal sector, where women are still a disadvantaged group.

How Asia manages and hurdles these realities shall be its lasting contribution to the pooled experience from which ISSA member-countries can learn.

It must be emphasized however, that what appears to be a very Asian agenda is in fact very much the ISSA agenda. The social security issues that Asia is currently grappling with are, in fact, the very same issues prioritized by the ISSA initiative.

The Philippines, a country of 80 million people, is right in the center of the Asia-Pacific region. It is a country that is Asian, with a strong blend of Latin and American influences. Filipinos have taken on leadership positions at the United Nations, especially in the fields of labor, security, migration and womens issues.

I am a Filipino and it is my honor to be one of the candidates for president of the International Social Security Association. I bring to ISSA my more than 30 years of experience with PriceWaterhouseCoopers where, for 20 years, I served as the first woman chairman and senior partner of its Philippine firm, and as the lone woman member of its World Board from 1992 to 1995. PriceWaterhouseCoopers is familiar to most of you because it is the largest of the "big four" internationally recognized organizations of independent accountants and management and financial consultants. The discipline that is required in managing enterprises has been the cornerstone of my work. Our work ensures the practice of transparency and good governance in public and private enterprises around the world.

My years at PriceWaterhouse-Coopers took me to many countries around the world and exposed me to peoples of different cultures and beliefs, and of different levels of economic and social development. This gives me the confidence to say that I am ready and prepared to work at the international level with all the members of ISSA in whatever continent.

The immense responsibility of providing social security made its indelible impression on me soon after I was appointed in 2001 to be the President and Chief Executive Officer of the 25 million-member Social Security System of the Philippines. …

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