An interview with Bettina Ramirez, Project Manager at the International Labour Organization
The Diploma for Social Protection Analysts is a new ITCILO learning initiative in the field of social protection. The training programme is designed for quantitative specialists. The overall goal is to improve the design, financial planning, and governance of national social protection systems.
Read on to hear from Bettina Ramirez, a Project Manager at the International Labour Organization and a former participant in the programme.
I studied economics in Germany, and then development studies in the United Kingdom. Later, I went back to Germany to complete a specialization course on human rights, with a focus on children’s rights. Thanks to my studies, I began my career with UNICEF. About five years ago, I joined the ILO and started working on social protection issues.
None of my academic studies focused in particular on social protection. Social protection is still not considered an official learning path by itself, which I personally find quite astonishing.
By working on these issues, I realized how relevant social protection is for everyone’s life: everyone, in fact, is affected by the existence of, or the need for, some sort of social protection: health care, pensions, maternity and paternity leave, and so on. It is a big part of our lives and of the political conversation across the world. Still, we do not have a dedicated track of studies, apart from a few Masters.
This is why I was keen to take up the opportunity offered by the ITCILO’s Diploma for Social Protection Analysts. For me, it represented a unique chance to learn directly from amazing subject experts along with other people who share the same passion for this subject.
Indeed. My first position with the ILO was in Cambodia, at a time when the ILO was contributing to enhancing the country’s social protection system. It was a historical moment. We launched the first-ever national health and insurance scheme! This is something that for Europe, or Latin America, may sound obvious, but it is a rather new concept in Asia. I was thrilled. For the first time, we could tell workers that they would benefit from a public health insurance system.
We also started working on the first national old age pension system, which was just recently launched. For me, it is a source of great satisfaction because it is a change that will affect millions of lives. Social protection tools, such as old age pensions, allow people to better plan their own futures and, ultimately, enjoy better living conditions.
"It was a fruitful experience, both personally and professionally. It was very useful for my particular needs at work, but also fulfilling in the sense that it is always a pleasure to learn new things. All the more if you do so along with other people that are equally motivated."
- Bettina Ramirez, Project Manager at the International Labour Organization
As a young technical officer for the ILO at the country level, I had to deal with issues such as health insurance and pensions, even though I had no previous experience in those fields.
So, I took my very first course with the ITCILO, the Actuarial Valuation course. It was a highly technical course meant for number crunchers, and that's not me! However, in my position I had to supervise the work of the consultants that do this kind of work, and I really needed to understand better what it entails. It was really an invaluable experience for me that made me a more capable officer.
The second course was the Public Finance. It was an excellent course because of the presence of many international experts, such as Michael Cichon, the former Director of Social Protection at the ILO. I felt I had learnt as much in that week as in a Master!
It was a very fruitful experience, both personally and professionally. It was very useful for my particular needs at work, but also fulfilling in the sense that it is always a pleasure to learn new things. All the more if you do so along with other people that are equally motivated.
Moreover, interacting with different people who work in similar areas mean that you learn a lot by comparison. This allows you to become open and creative thanks to the huge menu of new ideas that you have acquired during the course.
The last year was all about learning how to be a mom and then balancing that with work. So, there wasn’t much space left for other activities!
In general, I like taking a stroll in the city, sitting at a cafe, going for yoga class and then coming back home. I also love nature. I come from a family of hikers and we enjoy going out into the mountains.
I also appreciate nice food and good wine. That was my treat when my husband joined me during a course in Turin. I really hope that, one day, we will be able to visit again the beautiful region of Piemonte. The current situation does not allow us to travel but, thanks to the e-learning platforms developed by the ITCILO, my learning journey will eventually continue.