Goal 10 aims to promote inclusive economic growth and equal opportunity. Inequality and discrimination occur across various dimensions: economic status, age, gender, ability, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and religion. Growing inequality is a challenge for both developed and developing countries. The average income of the richest 10% of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10% across the OECD, up from seven times 25 years ago. In the United States, the top 1% of income earners have more than doubled their share of the nation’s income over the last 30 years. In developing countries, more than 75% of the population live in societies where income is more unequally distributed than it was in the 1990s. Inequality between countries is also growing: from 1960 to 2016, the absolute gap between the average incomes of people in the richest and poorest countries grew by 135%.
Opportunities & Challenges
Tackling inequality relies on a complex web of social, financial and legislative measures to promote equal opportunities and inclusion.
Inclusive access to technology: Reducing inequality relies on equal access to services and resources, including technology. Over half the world’s population (most of whom live in the developing world) are not connected to the internet, primarily due to the cost. In developed countries, consistent access to fast, uncapped broadband is relatively inexpensive, but this is not the case in developing nations. For example, for Nigerians, just 500MB of mobile data can cost more than expenditures for education. In Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, high levels of income inequality means that the cost of a data subscription remains unaffordable for the bottom 20%.
Political and social inclusion: A key facet of inequality is unequal representation in social and political affairs. In economically unequal societies, poorer populations are less likely to be politically represented. Participation in local and national governance enables more representative perspectives in decision making, promotes progressive policies, helps end discriminatory practices and ensures local populations have a voice regarding issues affecting their communities.
Safe migration: Managing displacement and migration is crucial for tackling inequality, as the migrating and displaced are at greater risk of being marginalized. Safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people has never been more important; 2016 saw the highest levels of displacement on record, with 65.6 million people forced from home as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations (versus 33.9 million in 1997). Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.
Reducing the cost of remittances: The cost of remittances remains a challenge to reducing inequalities in the developing world. Reducing commission charges to 5% (versus the current 7.6% average) could result in an additional $4 billion reaching Africa’s migrants, boosting capital flows and stimulating economies.
Lowering the cost of access to technology has been a force for change – five years ago in Myanmar, a sim card cost $200. now with market deregulation, mobile signal has been brought to the most remote areas. however, access and affordability alone will not necessarily get to the heart of issues such as confidence, literacy and gender norms which allow an unlevel playing field in the mobile market.Amy O’Donnell, Oxfam
The price of a computer has dropped to a point where it shouldn’t be a problem for anyone in the world to access it.Philip Colligan, Raspberry Pi
Technology, with access and connectivity, has the potential to open up new employment opportunities for marginalized young people, including refugees.Katherine Crisp, UNICEF
Technology in action
Digital technology will play a key role in addressing these challenges:
Tailored technology products and services can be designed to serve the needs of low-income and vulnerable groups, for example making them more affordable and accessible for remote populations. This might include the creation of mobile tariffs and service bundles focused on increasing affordability. Xinwei Telecom has launched affordable products and services for rural populations in Malawi, including mobile phones in the sub-$20 range.
Apps and web-based platforms can facilitate safe migration and support vulnerable populations. For example, AI programs can provide psychological support to those who have experienced trauma, and chatbots can aid organizations connecting and responding to displaced people. The current refugee crisis is rooted in the digital age and mobile is indispensable for the majority of refugees – in Za’atari, Jordan (the second largest refugee camp in the world) 86% of young people own a mobile phone, with more than 50% of those using it to access the internet daily. Apps such as InfoAid can help refugees prepare before departing, providing information about national borders and transportation and advice on security. Web platforms can help refugees embed in a new society and navigate local services such as housing and employment. In Germany, Flüchtlinge Willkommen (Refugees Welcome) has been referred to as “Airbnb for refugees”.Get Involved