On September 22, 2014, Equity for Children participated in a panel discussion as part of the 69th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, discussing how the Post-2015 framework and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can address inequalities and the needs of the most vulnerable. The event was co-sponsored by Child Fund Alliance, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages, World Vision, UNICEF, Plan International. It was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations.
Key takeaways from the session are:
Inequality should be included in the post-2015 agenda
Achieving equality is possible and voices of the most disadvantaged must be included in policy and program development
The international community is united in supporting these efforts
“Inequality harms us all.”
–Alexandra Yuster, UNICEF
The panelists agreed that inequality should be a key focus for the SDGs. Alexandra Yuster, Associate Director, Social Protection Unit, UNICEF, highlighted that among the most vulnerable sectors of society, discrimination disproportionately affects the most vulnerable, of whom a disproportionately high number are children. This perpetuates the cycle of poverty. She added that, as discrimination worsens and reinforces the deprivations already affecting the most vulnerable, the human-rights perspective is necessary to close the gap and ensure more peaceful and sustainable societies. Mette Thygesen, Deputy Head of the Department of Development Policy and Global Cooperation of the Danish government, commented that the government of Denmark is also advocating that inequality be elevated on the Post 2015 agenda, noting that inequalities should be considered in economic, social, and environmental terms. She stated: “Reducing inequalities should figure prominently in the SDGs and the Post 2015 agenda should aim to reduce inequalities” through human rights and inclusive sustainable economic growth. Paul Gulleik Larsen, representative of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, added that the SDGs should capture the “building blocks” of education, health, sustainable energy, gender equality and good governance. He advocated enhanced partnerships between the North and South, and between the private sector and civil society. The panelists all agreed that monitoring and evaluation by measurable goals must be central to the process.
“Inequity is not natural.”
–Mette Thygesen, Government of Denmark
The panelists concur that inequality and inequity are not inevitable and can be eradicated. Ms. Thygesen highlighted that inequities are based in discrimination and exclusion. To that end, she talked of creating wealth redistribution, especially for the poorest, through benefit systems rather than subsidies. She emphasized a human rights lens. Ms. Yuster noted that some governments already utilize equity and human rights-based focuses. In her view, transparency and accountability are paramount. She underlined discrimination as the basis for inequities and perpetuating the cycle of poverty. She argued that equality is a practical, essential goal in order to stop intergenerational poverty, “When we design policies and programs… around those that are the most disadvantaged, we actually achieve more and better results for everyone more cost-effectively.”
“No child should grow up being ‘no one’; no child should be unwanted, uncared for and without a chance of becoming a full part of society”
–Paula de Monthoux, SOS Children’s Villages
Paula Guillet de Monthoux, CEO, SOS Children’s Villages Denmark, spoke of placing the rights and needs of the most deprived children at the center of the SDGs. She quoted a child from SOS Children’s Village who has no parents and was placed in alternative care: “Sometimes I think about myself, that I am no one”. This personifies the most deprived people, who are disproportionately children and are more likely to suffer from additional deprivations tied to economic poverty than others. This child’s perspective emphasizes the importance of counting these children in data, both for targeting purposes and to exemplify the need for participation and voice from excluded community members.
“Equity-focused SDGs can count on a large coalition of constituencies that will join Member States efforts towards social justice.”
–Guenay Salazar, Equity for Children
Ms. de Monthoux identified challenges of the SDGs as a lack of definitions and the need to “develop a strong and cross-cutting narrative”. Guenay Salazar, Deputy Director for Research and Programs at Equity for Children, revealed preliminary findings of EFC’s Approaches to Equity Study (http://equityforchildren.org/approaches-to-equity/). Above all the study shows that equity is equated with fairness and avoiding unnecessary deprivations. She explained that discrimination shows up in many forms, including in social policies and macroeconomic systems. Again, children are most affected, and those under the age of five even more so. The study further documents a consensus that addressing inequalities in economic and social planning, investing in disaggregated data and including the voice of the most disadvantaged in these processes are the cornerstones of an equity approach.
The panelists united in their perspectives that equity and equality require a cross-sectoral approach to developing broad social and economic policies that reach the most disadvantaged. By looking at poverty from a multidimensional perspective and utilizing disaggregated data for services, policies and monitoring, the SDGs will progress beyond the MDG averages and address inequality.
- Please click here to read the SOS Children’s Villages International article.
- Please click here to view the video for the event.
- Please click here to read “RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA”.
- Please click here to read “A SOLID INVESTMENT:INTEGRATING CHILDREN WITHOUT PARENTAL CARE INTO THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK” by SOS Children’s Villages.
- Please click here to read the Preliminary Analysis of our “Approaches to Equity” study.