Marshall Islands - Social development



Private-sector provision of community and social services is mainly through the Marshalls Community Action Agency, a nonprofit organization. Among government agencies, the Ministry of Social Services is involved in five major areas: housing, women's and youth development, feeding programs, aging, and other community development welfare programs. Funding of these services is provided almost entirely by the US. A social security system provides old age, disability, and survivor benefits, paid for by employers and employees. The program is funded by 5% contributions from both employers and employees. Retirement is set at age 55.

The Marshallese society retains a traditional matrilineal structure. Each person belongs to the bwij, or clan, of his or her mother, and has the right to use the land and other property of the bwij. The head of the bwif is called an alap. The alap is the spokesperson between the clan members and the members of the iroij, or royal clan. Inheritance of traditional rank and of property is matrilineal, and women occupy important positions within the traditional social system. However, within the economic system, many hold low-paid dead-end jobs. Spousal abuse is common, usually in conjunction with alcohol use. No overt instances of sex discrimination have been reported. The government is committed to protecting and promoting the rights of children.

The government fully respects the human rights of its citizens. No human rights organizations exist, but there are no legal restrictions against their formation.

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