Introduction

Inequalities arise in many forms, often based on age, disability, gender, race, ethnicity, country of origin, religion, or economic status. Inequality also exists within households because, on average, women spend twice the amount of time as men doing unpaid housework. 

In 1980, the bottom 50 percent of income earners worldwide received eight percent of the global income, while the top one percent of income earners received sixteen percent of the global income. In 2016, the bottom 50 percent of income earners received ten percent of the global income, while the top one percent held 22 percent. If this issue is not addressed, the top one percent will control 39 percent of the global wealth by 2050. These statistics highlight the need to address inequality across the globe, which is why the United Nations, or the UN, instituted Sustainable Development Goal 10.

The Goal 

SDG 10 aims to reduce inequality within and among countries by 2030.

Targets and Indicators 

SDG 10 has seven targets, or areas of inequality that need to be addressed by 2030. One of these targets aims for continuous income growth of the bottom 40 percent of the population at a rate higher than the national average. The fourth target focuses on improving wages and social protection policies, such as minimum wage laws and disability benefits. The sixth target is to enhance the representation of developing nations in the international community. The UN also has several indicators, which are numbers that reflect progress on targets. For instance, the proportion of members and voting rights of developing nations in international organizations measures the sixth target’s progress.

What’s Already Being Done

There are positive signs of reducing inequality in some dimensions, like the income growth of the bottom 40 percent of people increasing from 2012 to 2017. However, those individuals still receive less than 25 percent of the global income. Despite progress made by organizations and individuals, it will be a problem even in 2030.

Still, people are working hard to combat inequality and they are making headway. For instance, Guatemala Water Filtration and Cookstoves is a project that distributes water filtration systems and cookstoves in Guatemala to reduce the rate of water-borne illness in the country. This project is improving clean water and sanitation standards, which aligns with SDG 6, while also reducing inequalities within Guatemala by giving economically-disadvantaged Guatemalans access to clean water, which they may have never afforded independently. 

Applying It: How Everyone Can Help

Although it may seem that reducing inequalities is the responsibility of national governments and international organizations such as the United Nations, you can also do your part. For instance, you can shop at local and small businesses, buy groceries from a local farmers market, donate furniture and books, and use whatever privileges you may have to help others. Though small, these steps can help the world meet SDG 10!

    Learn More

    1. Goal 10: Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal10
    2. “Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities.” UNDP, www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals/goal-10-reduced-inequalities.html.
    3. Goal 10 – United Nations Partnerships for SDGs Platform. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/partnerships/goal10/.

    Think Further

    1. Privilege is an advantage a particular person or group has over others. What is one privilege you hold that you can use to help others who are less fortunate? Think about the resources and skills you have that may be valuable to others.
    2. Inequality is more than just poverty and wealth. Can you describe a form of inequality aside from economic inequality? What causes this inequality, and how can it be addressed?
    3. While each SDG targets specific issues, many of the goals are intertwined. In what ways can achieving other SDGs reduce inequalities?

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