The dangers of neglecting inequality
November 10th, 2014
06:22 PM ET

The dangers of neglecting inequality

By Amina Mohammed, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Amina Mohammed is the U.N. Secretary General’s special adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning. This is the second in a series of articles from the World Economic Forum on the key challenges facing the world in 2015 as part of their Outlook on the Global Agenda. The views expressed are the writer's own.

Inequality is one of the key challenges of our time. Income inequality specifically is one of the most visible aspects of a broader and more complex issue, one that entails inequality of opportunity and extends to gender, ethnicity, disability, and age, among others. Ranking second in last year’s Outlook, it was identified as the most significant trend of 2015 by our Network’s experts. This affects all countries around the world. In developed and developing countries alike, the poorest half of the population often controls less than 10 percent of its wealth. This is a universal challenge that the whole world must address.

While it’s true that around the world economic growth is picking up pace, deep challenges remain, including poverty, environmental degradation, persistent unemployment, political instability, violence and conflict. These problems, which are reflected in many parts of this report, are often closely related to inequality.

The inherent dangers of neglecting inequality are obvious. People, especially young people, that are excluded from the mainstream end up feeling disenfranchised and become easy fodder of conflict. This in turn reduces the sustainability of economic growth, weakens social cohesion and security, encourages inequitable access to and use of global commons, undermines our democracies, and cripples our hopes for sustainable development and peaceful societies.

According to the 2014 Pew Global Attitudes Survey, in the seven Sub-Saharan African nations polled over 90 percent of respondents regard the gap between rich and poor as a big problem; in the United States, almost 80 percent do. Political leaders increasingly share these concerns. We are already seeing better policies in some countries, such as Rwanda, Brazil and Mexico, where access to resources are being shared more evenly, and where effective targeting for cash transfers have changed behaviours and bolstered progress in the lives of marginalized groups. But to do this on a larger scale will require stronger national institutions in many countries, adequate resources, more responsive leadership, and better policy making. Some countries have made progress in addressing the structural drivers of inequalities through a range of equity-focused and rights-based policy, legal and programme initiatives, which they have kept in place over time.

In order to effectively address inequality, countries need to embrace an integrated agenda that looks at the problem across the social, economic and environmental dimensions, including access to education, healthcare and resources. Central to these solutions is a basket of interventions that promotes equitable access to resources and services, as well as inclusive growth with decent jobs and livelihoods for all people within society. To enhance impact, disaggregated, high-quality and more transparent data is needed in order to target investments and channel resources where they are needed most.

The role of business cannot be overstated in the drive towards greater equality. Data from Pew shows people tend to believe governments are responsible for the wealth gap – but governments cannot solve the problem on their own. Addressing inequality is not only a responsibility but also an opportunity. Addressing inequality is good for business as it creates a new demographic of consumers, thus widening the market for profits and services and increasing profit opportunities, especially for women. Efforts to reduce inequalities and achieve inclusion are a multistakeholder responsibility which will require concerted action at all levels, from local to national, and regional to global.

We are all aware of the vulnerabilities and perils that define daily life across the world. We know what we need: inclusive economies in which men and women have access to decent employment, legal identification, financial services, infrastructure and social protection, as well as societies where all people can contribute and participate in global, national and local governance. It is now time for action, in order to leave no one behind and bring everyone forward with a life of dignity.

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Topics: Economy

soundoff (95 Responses)
  1. rupert

    My mother and my grandmother still molest me daily. That's why I'm such a mess.

    November 11, 2014 at 1:09 pm |
    • Philip

      Rupert you are in need of help. Your mother is dead and your grandmother was killed by Nazis.

      November 11, 2014 at 2:07 pm |
      • rupert

        If I don't take my meds I get these psychotic breaks. Maybe it was your mother and grandmother?

        November 11, 2014 at 2:16 pm |
      • Philip

        I don't know what's wrong with you. Go to a doctor.

        November 11, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
      • rupert

        I don't think you're really Phillip. I think you're one of those pod people. Or George Patton.

        November 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm |
      • The Exposer

        Fake rupert @ 2:16 p.m. and 2:37 p.m.

        November 11, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
      • The Exposer

        Fake Philip @ 2:07 and 2:29 p.m.

        November 11, 2014 at 2:46 pm |
    • The Exposer

      Fake rupert @1:09 p.m.

      November 11, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
      • The Exposer

        You can get arrested for exposing yourself rupert. Now take your meds like a good little boy and your mother and grandmother will take care of you.

        November 11, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
      • Philip

        Fake The Exposer @ 2:51 pm.

        November 11, 2014 at 2:54 pm |
  2. chri§§y

    Ok now thats just sick!! Stop it @ rupert! You can be such a sweet, nice guy when you wanta be but why do you gotta say dumb sh!t like that just to get attention! Hope your mom NEVER reads that garbage!

    November 11, 2014 at 1:42 pm |
  3. Ferhat Balkan

    I'd like to take a moment and thank Obama for supporting Net Neutrality. Obama asked the FCC to enforce net neutrality which means equality in terms of internet speeds. Republicans wanted to take it away and give certain corporations and higher paying companies a higher priority or a high speed lane on the internet, while throttling down the speed of those who can't afford it.

    November 11, 2014 at 1:59 pm |
  4. Well

    Well at least Glenn Beck has a serious disease. At least we got that going for us.

    November 11, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
    • Lawofabundance

      Instead of envy, try self responsibility? Instead of taking someone else's stuff, why not help create more for other people? It seems to me that victimization and immaturity are valued emotions these days. Then I see this. Another human being is sick and you make fun of them. So this type of behavior is acceptable? Clearly the tolerant left have emotional problems. Envy, lack, revenge, rigidity, negativity, control. Hummmmm HITLER.

      November 13, 2014 at 6:05 am |
  5. palintwit

    Bristol Palin's next novel should be hitting bookstore shelves soon. Her recent memoirs about her life as a drunk, pregnant teenager sold an astounding 1,500 copies and buoyed by this success she has worked very hard to write the sequel. Her adoring public expects no less because after all, those Palins aren't quitters.

    And related news in the literary world has Sarah Palin hosting another book signing event this weekend. Tens of people are expected to show up.

    November 11, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
    • The Exposer

      Fake palintwit @ 2:29 p.m.

      November 11, 2014 at 4:12 pm |
  6. chri§§y

    Well...we really dont have alot going for us at all. This whole world is one hot mess! And now we have Russia conspiring with Iran on Nuclear Arms! Maybe this sh!tcan pettiness could take a backseat for awhile huh?

    November 11, 2014 at 2:30 pm |
  7. chri§§y

    Lol @ rupert, or one of the Blue Crew huh?

    November 11, 2014 at 2:44 pm |
  8. rupert

    Will everyone please excuse me now while I go wee-wee my bed.

    November 11, 2014 at 2:55 pm |
  9. Blue Saffron

    I just dropped a hot steaming duce. It smells like Hannah's breath.

    November 11, 2014 at 3:22 pm |
  10. chri§§y

    @ Blue Saffron in response to your earlier post, the one about having a gay man as vote would be for Ellen Degenerous because honestly she is the KINDEST most sincere person in the world! Then we would have 2 groups representedg. Females and gays!

    November 11, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
  11. chri§§y


    November 11, 2014 at 3:54 pm |
  12. The Exposer

    Real chrissy @ 3:52 & 3:54 p.m.

    November 11, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
  13. palintwit

    I have always admired and respected Sarah Palin. She is great.

    November 11, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
  14. MiLK

    I have a dream, my bruthus. Of a day when a short fat black man van wear high heels and appear to be man about civil liberties. All the while fathering creamy babies and being a dad to not one of them living off of the MLK foundation. Not the Barack H. Obama foundation "ISIL" lives off of

    November 11, 2014 at 7:46 pm |
  15. needledick

    I think Sarah: is hot cuzz her coke bottle eye glasses make my thingy look bigger.

    November 11, 2014 at 7:49 pm |
  16. Trailer home dweller

    Fat interns turn me on. Acourse I'm from Arkansas so...

    November 11, 2014 at 7:53 pm |
  17. chri§§y

    Lmao @ banasy...its the Blue's Crew!

    November 11, 2014 at 9:14 pm |
  18. Dr. Phil

    Rupert isn't bi polar. He's immature. He was molested as a child which causes boys turning into men without full use of their emotional capacity. Is where America's ongoing depression epidemic came from. The one drug money MDs fight with profitable pill sales.

    November 12, 2014 at 4:10 am |
  19. Dr. Chris

    Geanette and DaVide would disagree with you.

    November 12, 2014 at 11:38 am |
  20. Thomas

    Sarah Palin Quotes , I am my own woman. "I am only a simple woman who lives to serve .

    November 13, 2014 at 2:16 am |
  21. Eddie Fonseca

    Take 6 who sung the Star Spangle banner for millions of Americans to listen and enjoy, at many baseball and football games it means America has been threw some tough years under President George Bush, who sacrificed many or our greatest men and women overseas in Iraq for a war which confused many Americans ruined America's image to the world. Also our economy went to hell in a hand basket lot's of middle class family's were on the poverty lines, and many people had lost their jobs and could not find work, America that once was seen as the land of opportunity was now known to the rest of the world as a second class nation which had lost the meaning of the American Dream for all Americans. When we elected President Barrack Obama about over one year ago he had a vision, to restore America's image to the rest of the world and bring back jobs back to America and create affordable healthcare insurance for millions of American's who did not have healthcare. It took a long time to create new jobs in America and clean up the mess President Bush left us, yes the road was long and painful but at least we are on the right path to a future which seems a little more clear then four years ago. Most Americans like myself would agree a commander and chief of our great nation, should be well educated and be we versed on global politics which effects America's interests so that the middle class can share some of the wealth that the top one percent earners in American enjoy on their paychecks. America has been a nation which shares a common vision if you work hard then you can buy that house or that fancy car for your wife, but sometimes there are average people working two jobs who struggle to make ends meet and they struggle to put food on the table or give their son or daughter that new toy that wanted for Christmas. Without having an equal mixed economy that provides universal healthcare for every American, and higher paying jobs that puts money back into our economy will be the nation which struggles with the invisible middle class that always on the poverty lines. Or can we as nation stand up in one voice from New York to Washington and say that as American's we not tolerate poverty or living as second class citizens, we are a nation that fight's for social equality also liberty and happiness for middle class and wealthy people across America for years to come.

    November 24, 2014 at 11:00 pm |
  22. skirt

    Can one only state exactly what a relief to locate somebody who actually is aware what they will be discussing online. You definitely know how to carry a concern in order to gentle and earn that critical. More and more people have to read this as well as understand why side with the account. I can't consider you aren't popular since you undoubtedly hold the surprise.

    August 21, 2015 at 10:17 am |
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