Closing the inequalities gap to achieve social justice

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Shea Gopaul

IOE Special Representative to UN NY

IOE Special Representative in New York Shea Gopaul recently joined the ILO in New York and the mission of the Kyrgyz Republic in a high-level event to mark the World Day of Social Justice on 20 February 2020.

The theme of this year’s event to mark World Day of Social Justice at ILO NY was Closing the Inequality Gap to achieve social justice.  Event participants included: Member States, policy experts and representatives from international organisations, employers’ organisations and trade unions.

Ms Gopaul took part in one of the main panel discussions, highlighting IOE’s commitment to addressing inequality and pursing social justice. Related to this, she expressed in her remarks, “IOE wants to assist in bringing business to the UN table to determine concrete steps towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).” IOE sees progress on SDGs as the best way to close inequality gaps.

She went on to explain that while much remains to overcome the inequality gap, there had been positive indicators of improvement. For example, for the first time 50 per cent of the population, 3.8 billion people, live in a household with enough discretionary expenditure to be considered middle class. The global poverty rate has fallen from 35.5 per cent in 1990 to 10.9 per cent in 2013. And, the number of childhood deaths has been cut in half since 1990 together with a decline in the number of primary school children not attending school globally from 100 million to 61 million between 2000 to 2015.

However, the global statistics do not necessarily reflect national or local ones; inequality varies from country. Gopaul explained that at IOE, “we believe one of the key factors required to close the inequality gap is creating an enabling business environment to promote job creation.” In addition, educational systems need to be adapted to ensure young people are learning the skills that match employment needs

She concluded by noting that while much has been achieved to improve the quality of life of millions of people, there remain many challenges and too many people living in poverty. A robust social dialogue between the public and private sector is the best path to achieving the SDGs and ending income inequalities.