Poverty, Inequality, and Women’s Rights: They All Must Be Addressed, But How?

United Nations, New York Headquarter, 6 February 2014

Professor Ocampo gave the first presentation, in which he spoke about income inequalities throughout the world. Inequality has two dimensions, inequality among countries, and inequality inside countries. Historically, free markets have allowed wealth inequalities to rise, and the state has historically stepped in to address this problem. In countries where the state hasn’t played that role, inequalities are very high. Inequality in that sense, is a choice of society: they can change the inequality if they adopt the correct changes.

Mr. Moreno spoke next and said that we rarely talk about inequalities in ability, and that it is something that needs to be addressed when we discuss development. He called on countries to create a policy that will include those with disabilities and allow them to participate socially, politically, and economically on the same level as everyone else. Mr. Moreno said that we cannot attain any goal unless we think holistically.

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Ms. Ameline was the final presenter, and she spoke about discrimination against women. She said that sustainable development will continue to be a dream unless the rights of women are realized. She stressed the importance of progress indicators by statistically analyzing the measurable impacts that are being made over time.

The representatives of Morocco, Bolivia, Peru and Mexico agreed that we should eradicate material poverty, but also spiritual poverty, such as racism, individualism, ageism, and others. We cannot work on the SDGs without acknowledging the human dimension. The representative of Japan asked, “What can the United Nations, through the SDG’s, do to change the inequalities in society, if the society has chosen those inequalities?” The representative of Indonesia was concerned about the kinds of domestic economic policy that can be used to address income inequality.

The floor was then opened for a general discussion. Benin said that although the world target for poverty reduction has been reached, 49% of the population of the LDCs still live in extreme poverty, lacking access to critical education, health and transportation infrastructure. Guinea said that there needs to be a framework that addresses inequalities in governance, wealth, gender, and education.

The executive director of the ITC, the International Trade Commission was given the floor, sharing that we need to facilitate the entrance of women into the workplace more than we already. Women are projected to be 30% of the workforce by 2020, and they reinvest 90% of their earnings back into their families, which improves quality of life. Therefore, the UN needs to craft a standalone goal relating to women’s rights and women’s empowerment.

Meeting Title: Sixth meeting of the Eighth Session of the General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals

Key Speakers: Professor José Antonio Ocampo, Columbia University; Mr. Lenín Moreno, Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility; Ms. Nicole Ameline, Chair, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women; Representatives of Bolivia speaking on behalf of the G77+China; Mexico; Japan; Indonesia; Peru; Morocco; Benin on behalf of the LDC’s; Guinea on behalf of the Africa Group; Executive Director of the ITC

Written by WIT Representative: Jacob Roth

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