There is a growing recognition of the importance of equity to development, and many development agencies recognize equity as a central goal for their programming. However, while equity is used intuitively in development debates and programming, it seems that its meaning is not clearly understood. This is reflected in often shallow analysis about what equity is and what should be done to achieve it. Its importance is recognized, but the policy priorities for achieving it are not consistently or coherently explored.
Recent decades have seen rising inequality and inequities, which are in turn partly responsible for the world ‘lagging behind’ on headline goals such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While this rise may be driven largely by worldwide processes such as globalization and economic integration, more than by government or donor policies, rising inequity is a problem that can and should be tackled by the development community, and should be more firmly on the agenda. This paper draws together the current understanding on why it is important, and how to tackle it.
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