Insights on Inequality Solutions

An introduction to practical policies for change


By Raquel Jesse, Program Associate, Pathfinders (CIC NYU)

The Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies launch a global resource for policymakers and civil society actors to accelerate progress on reducing inequality and exclusion

Screenshot from Inequality Solutions Portal

Inequality: A great divide

The disparity between the “haves” and the “have-nots” continues to rise, casting a stark light on the state of our societies and the systems by which we are governed — a system whereby the super-rich (the wealthiest 1 percent) have been allowed by governments and international institutions to accumulate nearly twice as much wealth as the rest of the world put together just in the last two years. Billionaire fortunes are increasing by USD 2.7 billion a day, while at the same time, at least 1.7 billion workers now live in countries where inflation is outpacing wages, and many more cannot meet basic needs. Over one billion people worldwide live in acute, multidimensional poverty across 110 countries.

The grip of the privileged elite on resources and freedoms is deepening existing hierarchies and perpetuating intersecting inequalities based on race, class, caste, religion, geography, disability, and gender. Worse still, in an age shaped by multiple and overlapping crises, we are witnessing a dramatic increase in divisive tactics deliberately employed to sow discord and pit groups against one another to distract us from profound imbalances in our economies and to undermine action for progressive change.[1]

Unsurprisingly, there has been a noticeable surge in discussions surrounding the need to renew the “social contract,” address the growing erosion of trust in our political systems, and heal rifts in societies.

Inequality Solutions: Practical policies for change

Although significant, the challenges we face are not insurmountable. We must not lose sight of the hard-fought victories and important strides made in improving people’s lives and freedoms. Even in recent times, governments from around the world have implemented progressive policies, from new constitutional land rights for Indigenous peoples in Brazil, correcting historical injustices inflicted upon 900,000 people, to Morocco’s rural road building program — which improved the lives of almost three million people by dramatically increasing access to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. Yet too often, impactful policies are buried within reports, staying within the confines of government departments, which rarely reach international mainstream media.

To put it plainly: the solutions are there, but we just don’t always know about them. Inequality and exclusion are not destiny. It is a political choice and change is possible. This is a message worth repeating.

In the pursuit of bringing these solutions to light, the Pathfinders, along with international partners such as the London School of Economics and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, have created Inequality Solutions. Imagine “Netflix meets policy think tank” — a one-stop public resource of applied, well-researched global policies that have driven progress towards a more equitable and inclusive world. From solidarity taxes in Uruguay to healthy homes in New Zealand — the Portal’s mission is to inspire policy innovation and push the bounds of what we believe is possible by showing what has already been done.

The Inequality Solutions portal is a growing resource — with new policy case studies added every week — to equip policymakers, researchers, advocates, activists, and anyone looking to make a difference with examples of what works.

Is every policy an inequality policy? The potential of every policy

There is no single “silver bullet” solution to the challenges our societies face, so the portal aims to provide a comprehensive menu of policy solutions across various sectors and government departments, from which policymakers can take inspiration and reference in tailoring solutions to their specific country contexts.

For example, if we are serious about creating safe and accessible homes for all, we need to look at policies related to social housing programs, retrofitting, upgrading, and greening homes; construction and procurement reform; legislation to strengthen the rights of tenants; disincentives to reduce housing speculation; the promotion of alternative housing models; and consideration of ownership and access to the very land we live on, i.e., a multidimensional menu.

Moreover, if we are serious about reducing inequality and exclusion, it is essential to recognize that all policies have the potential to reduce or exacerbate intersecting inequalities. Certain tools can aid policymakers in this, such as Canada’s Gender Based Analysis+ policy and Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) framework. The Inequality Solutions portal takes an intentional approach to both the design and evaluation of the included policies’ distributional impacts by asking practical questions such as:

  • Who is benefiting from this policy?
  • Is it reaching historically marginalized groups?
  • How much did this policy cost?

Equitable distribution of public expenditures is a key policy lever for mitigating inequalities. Examining the policy’s associated costs, financing mechanisms, and resource allocations is necessary. By questioning who benefits from policies and who is left behind, we can embed justice and equality into the very fabric of our policymaking process.

The path to a more equitable and inclusive world is within our grasp. We have the knowledge and solutions to drive meaningful change, but it will require us to heal divisions and come together to take action and shift our focus towards what actually is working.

We invite readers to explore the Inequality Solutions resource to learn more about the tools and inspiration they need to advocate for a fairer future. Together, we can create the transformative change our world urgently needs.

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[1] Examples: as the anti-gender movements in South Korea that scapegoat feminism as the cause of people’s struggles, or the passing of an “anti-woke” $886 billion bill by the Republican party in the United States, specifically targeting abortion, transgender rights, and diversity training.