One of the main findings to have emerged from the debate spearheaded by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in recent years is that economic and social development are closely intertwined and should form an active part of any public policy aimed at achieving greater equality. However, social gaps and debt in the region call for efforts to be redoubled to achieve full equal opportunities and universal rights. Although, in the past five years, there have been promising results in terms of poverty reduction and economic growth, Latin America remains the world's most unequal region. This poses challenges not only in terms of monetary income but also from the gender, ethnic and territorial standpoints. In excluded and other groups, these factors tend to lead to precarious employment that does not serve as a vehicle for social mobility and welfare. Furthermore, the working conditions of large sections of the population are a far cry from the normative horizon of decent work and fail to ensure access to social protection mechanisms. The region still has a very long way to go in achieving full realization of rights. In the absence of effective public or private protection channels, this undermines people's sense of belonging and precludes the legitimacy needed for a common project shared by all citizens.