Income inequality is still a major issue among nations, even in countries with developed economies. According to an Oxfam report, the richest 1 percent of the world’s population acquired two-thirds of all the global wealth created since 2020. This is nearly twice as much as the collective wealth of the bottom 99 percent. Indeed, the wealth gap is no longer just a gap but a widening chasm that could threaten economic, social, and political stability.
The most immediate solution to this increasing wealth gap is inclusive growth. This economic concept promises a brighter and more equitable future for all. With inclusive growth, countries can expect economic and political stability as well as social cohesion. Moreover, this stable economic environment promotes innovation and productivity, resulting in more globally competitive economies.
To ensure economic growth is equitably distributed, governments should prioritize economic development that uplifts the marginalized sectors—the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and more. With the right opportunities and tools, including access to the benefits of digital infrastructure, these segments of the population can transform into productive citizens and vital contributors to society and the economy. In this article, we’ll get to know these members of society who need to be supported to achieve the goal of inclusive growth.
- Indigent Population
Indigent populations, often plagued by poverty, face numerous hurdles in accessing necessities and opportunities. They are the most vulnerable among us, but their potential is immense. All over the world, there are 719 million people, or about 9.2 percent of the global population, living on less than USD 2.15 a day. This is according to the World Bank’s 2020 figures.
Government initiatives, coupled with the unwavering efforts of NGOs, play a pivotal role in empowering this segment. One such program is the United Nations Development Programme’s Sustainable Livelihoods Program (SLP). This endeavor focuses on empowering indigent and marginalized communities worldwide through skills development, access to credit, and support for sustainable income-generating activities.
Another example is CARE International’s Village Savings and Loan Associations. To tackle poverty, this program offers training in financial management and entrepreneurship. Ultimately, the program aims to develop an individual’s economic self-reliance.
- The Youth
The youth are the torchbearers of our future. Empowering them is not just about nurturing the current workforce, it’s about fostering long-term economic growth.
Young people face challenges in education and employment, but innovative youth-focused programs and policies are bridging these gaps. For instance, One Young World is a global organization that brings together young leaders and change-makers from around the world. They provide young leaders with the knowledge, skills, and connections to create positive change in their communities and beyond.
Meanwhile, the Youth Employment Network (YEN), a joint initiative of the United Nations, the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the World Bank, aims to improve employment opportunities for youth worldwide. YEN, in particular, works with governments, employers, and youth organizations to develop strategies and policies that promote youth employment, entrepreneurship, and skills development.
Gender disparities persist in many societies. This greatly affects women’s education levels, employment rates, and wages. Yet, women hold tremendous economic potential. Comprising half of the world’s population, their economic participation is instrumental in any country’s growth. That’s why international organizations are working to promote and support women’s empowerment, especially in the workplace.
UN Women, the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, operates the “Empower Women” initiative. This online global platform connects women entrepreneurs, business leaders, and change-makers from around the world. It offers resources, tools, and a supportive community to help women access economic opportunities, become entrepreneurs, and advance in the workforce.
Private sector initiatives, such as Goldman Sachs’s “10,000 Women,” are also important to help women fully realize their leadership potential in the workplace. This particular program focuses on providing education and access to capital for women entrepreneurs. It offers business and management education to women in underserved communities and emerging economies.
- The Elderly
The elderly represent a unique segment with distinctive challenges. Access to healthcare and social support is essential to ensure their well-being.
Innovative senior citizens’ programs are now focusing on enhancing their quality of life. One of these is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Age-Friendly Cities and Communities program. It’s a global effort to make urban and rural environments more accessible and inclusive for older adults. What’s more, it encourages communities to assess their age-friendliness in various domains, such as transportation, housing, social participation, and healthcare to improve these areas. Consequently, these improvements will enable the elderly to stay active and continue participating in the economy and society.
- Indigenous Peoples
The importance of protecting the rights of indigenous peoples cannot be overstated. After all indigenous communities often face challenges in accessing education, healthcare, and various other services.
That said, initiatives for preserving indigenous lands and traditions are taking root, and sustainable development projects in indigenous areas are helping these communities thrive. As a case in point, the United Nations Development Program or UNDP’s Indigenous Peoples Program works to advance the rights, well-being, and economic empowerment of Indigenous communities worldwide. This program focuses on issues such as land rights, access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities for indigenous peoples. In addition, it supports sustainable development projects that involve indigenous communities. This helps them preserve their cultural heritage while participating in economic activities.
Another great example is the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s (IFAD) Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility. This initiative is dedicated to improving the living conditions and economic opportunities of indigenous peoples in rural areas. Specifically, the facility provides grants to support indigenous-led projects that enhance their livelihoods and promote sustainable agricultural and rural development. These projects often include initiatives related to agriculture, land tenure, and market access.
- Persons with Disabilities
People with disabilities continue to face challenges in employment and accessibility. It’s a good thing that legal frameworks for disability rights are being established in many places around the world, and numerous organizations are tirelessly working toward their inclusion.
In 2006, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted by the UN to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities. It outlines the principles of non-discrimination, accessibility, and full participation in all aspects of life. While the CRPD is not a specific program, it has catalyzed a range of initiatives and policies at the national and global levels.
Countries that are signatories to the CRPD work to implement its provisions, which often involve programs and policies that aim to improve access to education, employment, healthcare, and social services for persons with disabilities.
- Rural Populations
The urban-rural divide in economic opportunities remains a stark reality in many countries. Rural populations who live in agricultural areas grapple with challenges that not only include livelihood opportunities but access to basic services as well.
That’s why global initiatives such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) were created. This specific program focuses on rural development and poverty reduction in remote and marginalized areas. IFAD provides financial resources, technical assistance, and expertise to support rural communities, particularly in developing countries. Moreover, its projects often include initiatives related to agriculture, agribusiness development, infrastructure improvement, and access to financial services.
Inclusive growth isn’t just an economic principle. It’s a moral imperative. Supporting these diverse population segments is essential for a world where everyone can participate in and benefit from the growth of their nations. It’s a global endeavor that requires us to tackle challenges head-on and persist in our efforts to build a world that truly includes all citizens. As such, it is important to continue to work together towards a future where inclusivity is not a lofty goal but a living reality.