Extreme wealth and extreme poverty coexist in the Arab region, along with the highest income inequality in the world. Women, young persons, older persons, people with disabilities and rural populations are all at risk of being socially and economically excluded. There are also vast differences in access to services, resources, opportunities and benefits from socioeconomic development.
The accumulation of enormous wealth in the hands of a few prevents economies from reaching their full potential in terms of growth and innovation. It also squeezes public budgets and limits resources for the provision of social services that individuals who are most at risk of being left behind depend on, such as education, health care and social protection.
However, inequality is not inevitable. Targeted policies are needed to build inclusive institutions, found coherent societies and improve people’s lives.
ESCWA works with policymakers on building the capacity to recognize and respond to all forms of inequality between population groups and geographic locations in the access to resources, services and opportunities.
Sawiris Foundation; Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies; World Food Programme (WFP); the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); Oxfam; the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD); Orange.
ESCWA hosts the annual Arab Forum for Equality. It brings together policymakers, experts, academics, partners from the private sector, and young leaders to discuss particular inequality issues and explore policy solutions. This activity complements the analytical work that ESCWA conducts through an annual flagship publication, providing a comprehensive review of a topic that highlights the interlinkages between inequality and other emerging and critical issues.
ESCWA has established Josour, a regional platform that brings together the private sector and young persons to provide opportunities and supports productive and meaningful employment. Josour offerings include job openings, internship programmes, technical and vocational education and training activities, dialogue forums, and employment and education fairs. Josour national chapters have been created for Jordan and Lebanon. Other chapters, including one for Egypt, are under development.
ESCWA has contributed to the creation of the Inequality Solutions portal to provide policymakers, researchers, advocates, and activists, with access to policies and programmes from around the world that have proven successful in reducing inequality and exclusion. The portal is updated regularly to reflect any development inspiring policy innovation.