What does reduced inequality mean

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All people should be able to determine their own lives. Their social, economic and political participation should be promoted. This strengthens social cohesion and also has a positive effect on economic development. Great social, political and economic inequality within states - but also between different states - is one of the great challenges of our time. Although global inequality between countries has decreased due to growth in many Asian countries, the differences are still large. Domestic inequality has even increased in most countries. Great inequality endangers the cohesion of societies, is a cause of social tension and migration, and endangers economic development. Reducing excessive inequality strengthens the social cohesion of a society, arouses willingness to perform, promotes the ability to innovate, contributes to sustainable economic growth and can reduce the potential for migration.

The forms of inequality are as diverse as their causes. Inequality is not only evident in the distribution of wealth and income, but also, for example, in access to education and health care, in life expectancy or in political participation. Inequality does not only exist in developing countries. In the euro area and thus in an affluent region, for example, the richest ten percent of the population own around half of the total wealth. It has been shown worldwide that women and girls are mostly affected to a much greater extent by inequalities than men. The reduction of inequalities and thus the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal No. 10 of the 2030 Agenda can only be successful if goal No. 5, i.e. gender equality, and thus the cross-sectional gender perspective is taken into account in all measures.

At least as politically challenging as the unequal distribution of income and wealth is access to education based on origin. Because education is the key to opportunities and social advancement. The latest figures from UNESCO make this clear. 264 million children and young people between the ages of 6 and 17 have no access to education worldwide! Access to early childhood education is even worse around the world. So far, only 17 percent of countries worldwide have introduced one year of compulsory and free early childhood education.

It is also of great importance to reduce inequality when it comes to access to good health care. Because unequal treatment can endanger life and existence and result in economic hardship for the whole family. This is why Germany is so committed to good health care worldwide.

In addition, political inequality must be counteracted. It is a cause of general inequality, exclusion, social tension and poverty. In order to combat these symptoms in the long term, participatory decision-making with the involvement of everyone and equal access to justice is required. Germany therefore advocates political participation for all in developing countries too, i. H. especially of disadvantaged population groups.

This also applies to reducing the causes of flight and irregular migration. Here, too, Germany is particularly committed. It focuses its development policy on crisis regions, the poorest regions of the planet and particularly disadvantaged states, some of which are in Africa. This counteracts the lack of prospects and unemployment - so that people can build a future in their home country!

As part of the German Academic Refugee Initiative Albert Einstein (DAFI), the federal government works together with the to ensure that refugees get access to higher education. A special focus is on young women who have fled. offers additional support for them to overcome inequalities.

Great inequality and reducing it is a fundamental human rights principle. The political, social and economic participation of all people regardless of their age, gender, disability, ethnicity, origin, religion, economic or other status is not just a requirement of social responsibility. It is also an important prerequisite for being able to use the economic, social and scientific potential of all people. The reduction of inequality thus also has an impact on society as a whole: If population groups are systematically left behind, this has a negative effect on economic growth and social cohesion, for example.

Measures are therefore required to increase low incomes and to improve the opportunities for political, economic and social participation, especially for people in the lower income bracket, as well as for women and girls. In its own country, Germany relies on the social market economy, fair and free trade, equal access to education and knowledge as well as equal opportunities for participation and the global strengthening of the rule of law. It is also important to the Federal Government that the global supply and value chains are designed to be sustainable and responsible. A central benchmark are those that companies must also observe in their business activities. This includes compliance with international labor and social standards such as freedom of association, protection against child and forced labor and the prohibition of employment and work. Important measures to reduce inequality are also progressive tax systems, a fair distribution policy and social security systems.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in New York in 2015, a global framework for action and orientation for sustainable development was created for the first time.

With SDG 10, the international community has set itself the goal of reducing inequality within and between countries. In addition, inequality as a cross-cutting issue across all 17 goals is important for the success of the 2030 Agenda. The principle of the "leaving no one behind" agenda underlines this in particular.

SDG 10 - Reduce inequality within and between countries. How is that supposed to be achieved?

Goal 10 aims to sustainably increase income growth for the poorest 40 percent of the population. All people should be enabled for self-determination and their social, economic and political inclusion should be promoted. Fiscal, wage and social protection measures are intended to gradually achieve greater equality. Equal opportunities are to be guaranteed through the abolition of discriminatory laws, policies and practices. The orderly, safe and responsible migration of people should be facilitated, among other things through a well-planned and well-managed migration policy. In addition, development funds and financial flows, including foreign direct investment, are to be encouraged, particularly in the least developed countries. Developing countries should be better represented in international economic and financial institutions and their greater say in decision-making should be ensured.

Concrete implementation through sustainability management

The German Sustainability Strategy (DNS) is the federal government's contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. It sets the framework for German sustainability policy. At the heart of it is a sustainability management system that combines goals with specific time frames for their fulfillment and specifies indicators for continuous monitoring.

Which indicators should be used to measure inequality in Germany? And what national goals does the federal government set itself to reduce inequality?

  • Equal educational opportunities: by 2030, the proportion of foreign school leavers with at least a secondary school leaving certificate is to be increased and brought into line with the rate of German school leavers. Because education is the key for the successful integration of regular migrants and thus for their equality and participation in German society
  • Distributive justice: In order to prevent excessive inequality, the Federal Government has set itself the goal of keeping the so-called "Gini coefficient" for household income after taxes and social transfers below the EU average (EU-28) until 2030 - even if distribution measures change cannot be directly politically controlled and depend on different, dynamic influencing factors in the individual countries. The Gini coefficient is a statistical measure of inequality. It takes a value between 0 and 1. The value 0 means that every person has exactly the same income, while the value 1 means that only one person receives the entire income, and thus indicates the situation with maximum inequality.

The indicator report of the Federal Statistical Office, which is to be submitted every two years, shows how the indicators of the strategy have developed and whether and how the goals have been achieved. The annual monitoring report on the Federal Administration's program of sustainability measures creates the necessary transparency for what the Federal Government is doing in its own area to implement sustainability.

From today's perspective, the results are not yet sufficient. In 2015, 88.2 percent of all foreign school leavers achieved at least a secondary school leaving certificate. This is an increase of 7.9 percentage points over 1996. However, at 6.8 percent, the gap to the German comparison group remains high. The gap increases significantly with higher educational qualifications. The proportion of German school leavers with a university entrance qualification is twice as high.

Inequality in the distribution of disposable income is falling and is below the EU average. In Germany, social benefits, social security contributions and taxes make a significant contribution to reducing inequalities in market incomes.

Reducing inequality in Germany - what is the federal government doing in Germany?

The promotion of economic and social participation has always been a goal and model of the social market economy pursued by Germany. High employment, low unemployment, the independence of the collective bargaining partners and the welfare state are the best reinsurance for participation and against inequality. The current collective bargaining agreements in Germany show that. Progressive taxes and transfer payments such as BAföG benefits, unemployment benefits, child benefits and housing benefits or the exemption from daycare fees contribute to the fact that lower-income households can also participate in social life. The topping up of particularly low wages and pensions by the state also serves this purpose.

In the past 15 years, the positive growth and employment trend in Germany has helped stabilize development. In the last few decades the low wage sector has expanded. The federal government reacted to this by introducing the general statutory minimum wage at the beginning of 2015. The minimum wage was increased from EUR 8.84 gross to EUR 9.19 in 2019 and will be raised in a further step to EUR 9.35 in 2020.

The minimum wage also reduces the pay inequality between women and men. Because an above-average number of women are employed in the low-wage sector. In addition, the 2017 Remuneration Transparency Act created an important tool for combating unequal pay for women and men.

TIP: Make use of your individual right to information in the Entgelttransparenzgesetz! More information at https://www.bmfsfj.de/entgelttransparenzgesetz

In addition, the federal government has strengthened the rights of temporary workers, including through regulations on the equality of temporary workers with regard to wages with the permanent workforce ("equal pay") after nine months at the latest.

Gender equality policy: politics for women and men!
Equality between women and men is one of the central challenges in making life in our country sustainable and fair. To achieve this, women and men must be given the same opportunities throughout life - personally, professionally and in the family. Gender equality policy is therefore at the very heart of government action. More information at: https://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/themen/gleichstellung

Under the German presidency, the G7 countries, i.e. the most important industrialized countries, agreed in 2015 to improve women's income and career opportunities, reduce pay differentials and reduce the proportion of women in low-wage jobs.

Increase equity in the education system

Education is a human right - it enables people to improve their political, social, cultural and economic situation. Every child has the right to schooling, and every person has the right to meet their basic learning needs - for a lifetime. The 2030 Agenda therefore calls for global access to education in SDG 4, without discrimination and regardless of origin or gender.

The connection between the socio-economic background and the educational outcomes has tended to decrease in Germany in recent years, even if there is a need for further improvement. This primarily affects the school sector, which is the responsibility of the federal states.

In its area of ​​responsibility as well as in joint initiatives with the federal states, the federal government has taken a variety of measures to further improve equal opportunities in the education system. Concrete examples of this are measures to promote language and reading, to further professionalize the educational staff, to modern and attractive design of advancement and careers in the professional system, to recognize qualifications and competences, to increase opportunities for participation through further training, to promote cooperation and regional educational networks, for quality assurance and improvement of the educational system through educational research and educational monitoring and for inclusion research as well as initiatives to promote high performers as well as to support the weaker ones.

In addition, with the planned introduction of a legal right to all-day care in elementary school age and the accompanying expansion of all-day care, a further contribution is made to improving equal opportunities in the education system.

Young people with disabilities, like non-disabled children and adolescents, are entitled to attend a general school. Equal opportunities to study, train and work should also be open to them. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) of 2006 prohibits the use of persons with disabilities in all areas of life. The contracting states undertake to grant people with disabilities unrestricted participation and to enable them to exercise them. With the Federal Participation Act (2016) and the National Action Plan 2.0, two important disability policy projects, inclusion in Germany is to be further promoted and people with disabilities are to be given more self-determination and participation than before. The Disability Equality Act (BGG of 2016) regulates, among other things. Questions of accessibility in the areas of construction, infrastructure and the use of sign language and easy language.

Good integration is an ongoing task

Germany is a cosmopolitan country. The integration and participation of people who legally immigrated to Germany or who found protection here is one of the most important domestic political tasks and remains a long-term challenge for society as a whole. Learning the German language is an important prerequisite for successful integration. To this end, integration and language courses are offered nationwide. e were expanded into a common modular system with the job-related language courses, the overall language program.

The early communication of values ​​was also strengthened. Independently of this, encounters between immigrants and the host society are actively promoted through integration projects. This also includes the Integration through Sport program.

Another integration measure is the one for adults (MBE), which enables the six leading associations for voluntary welfare and the Federation of Displaced Persons to offer specific advice on site (e.g. on housing, health and work).

Integration requires permanent commitment in almost all areas of life, from all levels of government, from the host society, but also from the immigrants themselves. Reference should also be made to the National Action Plan for Integration. The federal, state and local governments, but also many non-state actors, are involved. The key to integration is equal access to education from early childhood education to university and into the training and labor market. The recognition of foreign educational and professional qualifications is also a central element.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has put together a package of offers to support especially young people with a refugee background in their individual career orientation process, e.g. with the program "Career orientation for refugees" and projects of the education chains initiative. Children and young people who attend general schools take part in the regular career orientation program. With the network of KAUSA service points, young people and their parents, as well as migrant training companies, are informed about dual training and won over to this attractive educational path.

An overview of the training and education offers for refugees and migrants can be found on the BMBF website.

Since March 2016, the Federal Ministry of Economics has been promoting so-called “welcome guides” to chambers and other business organizations to support companies in integrating refugees into work and training. Currently 178 welcome guides visit the companies on site, raise awareness of the topic of "securing skilled workers" and advise on the legal framework. Since the start of the program, around 16,500 refugees have been placed in training, work, internship, observation or entry-level qualification.

Civil society commitment to eliminating inequality and successful integration is also essential. Successful integration enables immigrants to participate and promote social advancement, promotes social cohesion and at the same time increases the attractiveness of our country for foreign skilled workers.

Germany is committed to eliminating inequality around the world

In order to achieve sustainable development, nobody should be left behind. With the principle of "Leave no one behind" (LNOB), the 2030 Agenda focuses on the most disadvantaged people. The Federal Government understands the LNOB principle as an invitation to take the poorest and most vulnerable population groups with us on the path to sustainable development and to make them the focus of German development cooperation. This enables social, economic and political participation and promotes equal opportunities.

The focus is on the poorest regions in the world, especially in Africa. In many places, high inequality and a lack of prospects mean that more and more people want to leave their homes.
Through measures that promote an inclusive and peaceful society, enable social and political participation and create good and decent jobs, as well as a fair trade policy, future prospects are opened up.

This is exactly where the BMZ's Marshall Plan with Africa comes into play. A cooperative partnership with partner countries is intended to create inclusive economic growth and employment opportunities, as well as promote good governance, respect for and rule of law. In order to reach the people most affected by poverty and exclusion, the Marshall Plan focuses on strengthening rural areas.

Over 68 million people around the world are currently fleeing violence and persecution. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development also wants to help reduce inequalities with the special initiative "Fighting the causes of flight - reintegrating refugees". The aim is to ensure that violent conflicts do not arise at all, escalate and force people to flee.
Education along the entire educational chain (from basic education through vocational training to higher education) is a key area of ​​German development policy for the prevention of irregular migration and the reintegration of returnees. The measures include paying teachers' salaries, rebuilding destroyed school buildings, training teachers, qualifying refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as scholarship programs and blended learning courses for refugees in host countries. It is important that the programs and the host communities benefit equally.

258 million people worldwide live as migrants and outside their country of origin. Some of them decide to leave their country due to the great poverty and lack of prospects and face great dangers along the way. A responsible migration policy is therefore necessary. The German government is campaigning for controlled, legal migration from third countries within the EU and has submitted a government draft for a skilled worker immigration law at the national level.

The Federal Government has pushed ahead with the development of the Pact for Refugees (Global Compact on Refugees, GCR) and the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) and thus has an international role to play in this area Escape and migration underlined again. While the GCR aims at a fairer international division of responsibility in large refugee situations, the CGM aims to strengthen rule-based international cooperation and order in matters of migration. Both pacts were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly by a large majority at the end of 2018. This means that another sub-goal of SDG 10 has been implemented internationally.

The consistent implementation of the National Action Plan for Economy and 2016-2020 is an important goal of the Federal Government. In order to strengthen human rights protection worldwide, also in an economic context, there is a wide range of government measures from various policy areas such as trade, procurement, foreign trade promotion, subsidy policy and improved access to remedy and reparation. In addition, the Federal Government expects all companies to adequately implement human rights due diligence in their business activities.

The Federal Government is also committed to a fair and open world trade system with common rules so that developing countries can actually use the opportunities associated with trade liberalization.

In addition, the federal government wants to be a pioneer for a fair trade policy with Africa. The economic partnership agreements between the EU and the African states are intended to serve the economic and social development of Africa.

German development cooperation aims to combat poverty and inequality in partner countries. B. on equitable education and qualification or the expansion of free health services. At the same time, the cooperation aims to promote inclusive economic growth and the development of democratic state, social and societal structures. These include, for example, supporting partner countries in setting up social security systems, promoting fair, transparent and effective tax systems and supporting dialogue between the state and society.

The most important principle is the strengthening of children, equality and inclusion. The Federal Government will continue to work to ensure that binding human rights, social and ecological standards and specific complaint and review mechanisms are agreed in all EU trade, investment and economic partnership agreements.

In order to lift all people out of poverty and leave no one behind, structures must be created that enable people to claim their rights and support states in fulfilling their obligations to respect, protect and guarantee human rights. The international human rights conventions provide the legally binding framework for this.

To effectively reduce poverty and inequality, sustainable economic activity and decent employment (SDG 8) and perspectives for young people are necessary. Especially against the background of the high population growth (especially in Africa) and with a view to the upheavals caused by the digitization and automation of work, it must be prevented that people are left behind. Employment promotion, vocational and digital education, especially for disadvantaged people, and the creation of good jobs are therefore increasingly part of German development cooperation. The International Labor Organization (ILO) with its tripartite structure made up of governments, employees and employers is a central partner of the Federal Government in the United Nations.

The global inequality in the distribution of income and wealth and between states cannot only be corrected by states and international organizations. That is why the involvement of the private sector is another important concern of German development cooperation. With investments we can trigger leaps in development. The contact point for companies that want to get involved in developing and emerging countries is the Agency for Business and Development.