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February 22, 2015

Week 5: Inequality and Inequity

This week we invited bloggers to address the issues of inequality and inequity that hit so squarely the core ethical challenges of fairness and opportunity. What more could development institutions do to address inequality both within and between nations? What are priority actions? And what parts of the problem are not sufficiently understood (notwithstanding many thousands of texts and equations)? What research needs to be done?

Also this week, The White House conference on violent extremism brought home the links between security and development, and at the World Bank Dr. Kim led a daylong discussion on February 18 that echoed themes from his inaugural Global Futures lecture at Georgetown. Georgetown's Katherine Marshall reflects on these connections in her Huffington Post piece.

  • Wilmot Allen responds to the Basu lecture with two proposed areas for focus for Sub-Saharan Africa: cross-regional analyses of contributions and financial strategies that support new opportunities to engage diaspora communities. He highlights the benefits that could come from identifying and funding talented diaspora entrepreneurs who can scale enterprises both in developed and developing economies. Coordinated efforts among development institutions, the private sector, and diaspora actors could help eliminate some fragmentation of effort and point to new ways to redress wealth inequality.
  • Kailee Jordan argues that if we want to address inequality overall and at its roots, targeting women and girls is the most effective place to start. Notwithstanding rhetoric about gender equality and women's empowerment, she sees gender policies and programs as largely marginalized, with little real push to move on the many obvious issues, widespread violence against women and girls among them.
  • Ravi Subramanian highlights barriers to post secondary education as a major factor in sticky inequality. Drawing on experience in India, he argues for targeted efforts like low-cost tutoring that can help overcome family and poverty-related barriers that limit access of bright but disadvantaged students to education that can truly reduce inequality.
  • Arunjana Das reflects on treatment of inequality issues by various development actors, suggesting that differences in framing reflect a range of biases and contribute to weaknesses in handling the issue intellectually and in terms of policy.