Sustainable Development Goals: SDG #10 Progressively Achieving Greater Equality

By Shani Asokan | Published: 2:00 AM Apr 24 2021

By Shani Asokan   Ceylon Today Features

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 goals that were agreed upon by all United Nations (UN) Member States at the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Summit as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

Sustainable Development Goal 10 seeks to reduce inequality within and among countries. This goal seeks to address inequality in different forms, such as economic, sex, disability, race, social inequality and discrimination. These forms of inequality are deeply interconnected with issues related to health, pollution and environmental justice, and often cannot be viewed as separate to them. In some places, inequality is tied to indigenous or aboriginal communities, ethnic minorities, and other communities of low socio-economic status. 

Inequality is also tied to globalization, as, with globalisation comes migration, displacement and dispossession, all of which can lead to an increase in the vulnerability of marginalized groups. Inequality has also been associated with physical and mental health in various forms.

In order to assess the effort that needs to be made to bridge inequality gaps, it is crucial that inequality in its individual forms in measured. The Gini Coefficient is often used to measure socio-economic inequality and can show the income and wealth distribution among and within countries. 

Income inequality is rising. The richest 10 per cent of the world have almost 40 per cent of global income, whereas the poorest 10 per cent earn only between four to seven per cent. In recent decades, income inequality has increased almost everywhere in the world, at varying speeds. The pace of growth is highest in the Middle East and lowest in Europe. 

In order to address these widening disparities, policies are required to empower low income earners, and promote economic and social inclusion regardless of sex, race and ethnicity.  

Where we are

In 2016, 22 per cent of global income went to the top one per cent of the world’s richest. The world’s poorest 50 per cent only earned 10 per cent of global income. In comparison, in 1980, the top one percent had 16 per cent of global income and the bottom 50 per cent had 8 per cent. So, while the share of global income has increased significantly for the world’s richest people, it has only increased marginally for the world’s poorest.

This is because income inequality is largely driven by unequal ownership of capital. That is, the global wealth share of the top one per cent is disproportionately larger than the rest of the world. If nothing changes, this wealth share is predicted to increase, going from 33 per cent in 2016 to 39 per cent in 2050.

Gender discrimination too, plays a large role in income inequality. On average, women spend twice as much time on unpaid labour (like household chores and looking after children) than men. Women are also more likely than men to live below the 50 per cent of median income. Further, is it only in 60 per cent of countries assessed by the United Nations that women have equal access to financial services. The have equal access to land ownership in just 42 per cent of the assessed countries. 

Though social protection has significantly advanced, persons with disabilities (PWDs) are still up to five times more likely than average to incur devastating health expenditures. Of the one billion population of PWDs, 80 per cent live in developing countries.

Further, despite an overall decline in maternal mortality in most developing countries, women in rural areas are still more likely to die in child birth than urban women. 

Goal 10 Targets

This goal aims by 2030, to progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the global population at a rate higher than the national average. This includes empowering and promoting the social, economic, and political inclusion of all people regardless of age, sex, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, disability or socio-economic status.

Goal 10 seeks to ensure equal opportunity for all and reduce inequalities of outcome by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices, and instead creating and promoting more appropriate ones. This includes adopting fiscal, wage and social protection policies that are compatible with the targets Goal 10 seeks to achieve.

This Goal also seeks to increase and enhance representation and voice for developing countries on international decision-making platforms, economic forums and financial institutions in order to develop and deliver more effective, credible, accountable and legitimate structures, policies and institutions. Additionally, it aims to ensure that development assistance and financial flow including foreign direct investment is given where the need is the greatest, particularly in least developed countries, African countries, small island developing nations and landlocked developing countries. 

SDG 10 includes a sub-goal to facilitate safe and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies. 

The effect of the global pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak deepened existing social, political and economic inequalities as it hit the poorest and most vulnerable communities the hardest. However, the pandemic has also highlighted economic inequalities and fragile social safety nets that are virtually useless in times like this, leaving the already vulnerable to bear the brunt of this global crisis. 

On the economic front, the pandemic has caused mass unemployment and large reductions in worker incomes. It has also halted any progress in gender equality and women’s rights as across every sphere of development, from health to economy, security to social protection, the effects of the pandemic are more intense for women and girls, simply by virtue of their sex. 

Already vulnerable populations with weak healthcare systems, poor economies and low levels of sanitation and those living amidst humanitarian crises are among the worst affected, further highlighting the grave need to meet Goal 10’s targets on reducing inequality, increasing social protection, and facilitating safe migration by 2030. 

Join us next week for a discussion of Goal 11!  

By Shani Asokan | Published: 2:00 AM Apr 24 2021

More News