In this paper, we explore the phenomenon of an unequal world and discuss the presence and prevalence of inequity in four main arenas: health, education, income, and power. Significant work is needed in all four of these arenas in order to make progress toward a truly equitable world. The primary focus of the paper, however, will be the characteristics of policies, programs, and strategies necessary to improve equity in health and education. The idea behind this is that lack of access to quality healthcare and educational opportunities promote a vicious cycle of poverty and lack of power and by creating equity in these areas, we can empower those who are marginalized and provide opportunities to break out of this cycle. Certainly, this task is not as simple as it sounds, and simply providing access to education and healthcare is not a fix-all solution, but it is a solid step foreword on the path to global equity.
An Unequal World
It may be argued that the state of the world as a whole has vastly improved over time, and it certainly has (Peña-Lopez, 2005), but exactly how equally distributed are such improvements? Sen (2001) reminds us, “Even though the world is incomparably richer than ever before, ours is also a world of extraordinary deprivation and staggering inequality.” Sen’s (2001) main point is that overall gains are much less important than the fair distribution of those gains. The United Nations Development Program regularly calculates a measure they refer to as the Human Development Index (HDI), “a composite index measuring average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development—a long and healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living” (Malik, 2013, p. 151). Recently, they have adjusted this index for inequality and now refer to it as the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI), Malik (2013) places countries in four distinct groups according to IDHI: Very High, High, Medium, and Low. The differences are staggering. “Very High” country Australia enjoys an IDHI of 0.864, reflecting a 7.9% loss from its original HDI of 0.938 and second only to Norway. In contrast, the lowest of the “Low” countries, Niger, holds an IDHI of only 0.200 with a 34.2% loss from its original HDI. Niger, then, has an IDHI that is 78.7% than Australia and has a much greater inequality of distribution within than country than does its “Very High” counterpart.
Inequality in Health
Life expectancy at birth has been increasing across the globe since 1960. However, the between-country inequality has remained startlingly high. In this way, the overall numbers are deceiving. While many high-income countries enjoy low infant mortality rates and long life expectancies, low-income countries continue to show infant mortality and life expectancies that reflect a deficit in the resources and technology readily available to higher income countries. Peña-Lopez (2005) reflects this inequity when she states that the “health...