In anticipation of the Eighth Session of the UN Open Working Group (3-7 February 2014), AINA hosted a global e-consultation from 16 December, 2013 – 17 January 2014 focused on the ‘Promoting Equality, including Social Equity’ issue brief of the Open Working Group’s Technical Support Team. This brief will be at the centre of the upcoming deliberations and debates. Equity for Children submitted a detailed comment in response to the following question:
- “After reading the issues brief, what do you think needs to be added? What do you think needs to be removed? How would you improve the document?”
To read more about the AINA Open Working Group Global E-Consultation, click here.
Equity for Children’s Comments on the Global E-Consultation on Inequality
First of all, the initiative Equity for Children of the New School University, commends highly the efforts of the Open Working Group and in particular the ST Issues Brief on Equality “Promoting Equality, including Social Equity”. We agree with all points made and would only like to add some further aspects that we deem relevant for consideration and discussion.
Those aspects are mainly based on our ongoing research “approaches to equity”, that we started in July 2013. Apart from a desk study of existing theories and practices that promote equity, we have conducted interviews with leaders of international organizations, researchers, philanthropists and private foundations on their views on equity and best practices/policies to promote equity for children. The interviews and relevant documents are accessible on our web site www.equityforchildren.org under “approaches to equity”.
In line with the Issues Brief, one major result of our ongoing research is that equity is considered so far by all interviewees as highly important to address inequalities worldwide, either in low, middle or high income countries. In summary, the following challenges have been defined by our interviewees as the most important obstacles to overcome:
- Lack of political will and thus lack of budgetary allocations to equity programming and equity enhancing policies
- Lack of governance and social accountability , high levels of corruption
- Donor priorities looking at short term impacts resulting in dispersion of small vertical projects.
- Lack of common strong advocacy
- Lack of disaggregated data to justify equity focused programmes
- Policy bias to middle class in richer countries
- Lack of adequate human resources in developing countries
- Prevailing social and cultural norms, discrimination
The issues brief elaborates very well on the structural causes of inequalities. We suggest to mention also the fact that through a fast changing economy new drivers become evident and accelerate existing income inequalities in present and future generations. For example shifts in consumer demands, set by those who concentrate income towards more and more expensive products and high end services set higher and higher standards also for those who can’t afford them resulting in tighter budgets for low and middle income families and increased uptake of debts. One major vehicle and new driver in this context are new technologies.
The document may also indicate that the process of growing inequalities is self reinforcing as wealth and high income impact directly on policy processes,[i] the public opinion and legislation favoring low taxation on high income and estates, increasing thus and perpetuating further inequalities in societies. This dynamic could be made explicit as policies are often the expression of influential groups and not expression of the common interest and universal human rights.
The issue paper may also highlight more the trend of growing intra urban inequalities in middle income countries as most poverty and wealth concentration can be observed. The impacts of such “daily experienced” contrasts on children and families may be fleshed out more.
The recommendations for the way forward as outlined in the issue paper are very much in line with our research findings.
We would still like to highlight two points:
- 1. generally spoken there is a need for more innovative global and local public policies that might need a common effort of reflecting on more ‘out of the box’ measures responding to quickly changing economical and social contexts. This will require to reach out to inter-disciplinary think tanks that could continuously accompany the ongoing process before and after 2015, feeding in with more flexibility new dynamic ideas of change.
- 2. the relevance of tax justice. Following the conclusions of the Task Force and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBARHRI) we assume that in order to confront tax abuse, to ensure coherence between corporate, tax and human rights laws and policies, the investment of revenues collected through improved domestic and international tax enforcement and others similar measures could provide financial resources and economic benefit that help to ensure to every child an universal floor of citizenship.
 Robert H. Frank, the vicious circle of income inequality, New York Times, 12. January 2014, p. 3
 Tax Abuse, Poverty and Human Right, IBARHR 2013, page 132