Taking Inequality into Account in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Written by Rachel M. Gisselquist on UN-Wider:

“There is much to commend in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as we approach their target deadline of 2015. In addition to the major improvements achieved in poverty, health, and education, the establishment of a set of worldwide targets, and their incorporation by countries into diverse national development agendas, represents in itself a remarkable global achievement. The MDGs have also left some major issues on the table. One of the most important, and challenging, is inequality.

Despite this, the MDGs themselves have helped to illuminate some aspects of inequality. One of the most striking findings highlighted in continuing efforts to monitor their progress, for instance, is that none of the so-called ‘fragile’ states is expected to reach any of the MDG targets. When we consider what this implies about the opportunities open to the average child born in one of these countries, to those born elsewhere, the stark inequalities of our increasingly globalized world stand in sharp relief. The MDGs have also helped to bring attention to major gender inequalities, in education, health, and employment.

At the same time, the national-level statistics highlighted by the MDGs have obscured other major inequalities within countries, both across individuals and households, and across different groups in society. Inequalities across social groups, defined in particular by ethnicity, region, religion, and other markers of communal identity, involve systematic differences in power, status, or opportunity, as well as income and wealth – and pose arguably the greatest challenges for the post-2015 development agenda. Successfully addressing these various aspects of inequality will require technical and political innovation.”

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