Digital information systems serving the social protection sector, and especially social assistance, are increasingly prominent and will continue to be, as is the case within all other sectors. “Why? Because the ability of a country to care for its people and respond to their lifecycle needs depends on its ability to identify those who are in need, enroll them, provide tailored benefits and services, and follow up to cater to evolving circumstances”. Governments also need to be able to monitor programme implementation and impact, feeding into longer-term decisions on design and resource allocation. “All of these actions require accessible, dynamic and real-time data and information exchange if the goal of universal coverage is to be achieved” (Chirchir and Barca, 2019).
The coverage (% of the population included in the information system), relevance (amount/type of data they store), and accessibility (e.g. level of interoperability/data sharing across the government data ecosystem) of these administrative data systems has also been increasing in many countries – posing important opportunities and challenges to policy-makers. The question is how to develop these systems in a way that is inclusive and right-based, leveraging technology “to ensure a higher standard of living for the vulnerable and disadvantaged” (Alston, 2019) rather than becoming a further barrier to inclusion. To illustrate the point this paper specifically focuses on gender and disability inclusion, while acknowledging similar considerations apply to all other forms of (intersectional) exclusion.