The top 1% of the global population controls over half of global wealth— while the poorer half of the world controls less than 1% of wealth. The combined wealth of the 200 richest people in the world ($3.18 trillion) is greater than the total wealth of Africa ($2.83 trillion) and nearly equivalent to the total wealth of Brazil ($3.194 trillion). The carbon consumption of someone in the richest 1% is 175 times that of a person in the poorest 10%.
With these unequal synopses, ActionAid globally has launched a report today titled ‘The Price of Privilege: Extreme wealth, unaccountable power and the fight for equality in the 21st century’.
Report shows, inequalities of all kinds are on the rise. This is happening despite the fact that the moral, political and economic justifications for such inequalities — whether between women and men, between Dalit and Brahmin, or between black and white — are increasingly being challenged.
This paper intends to be a modest and thought-provoking contribution to ongoing discussions around inequality. With the 45 countries work experiences and information around the world ActionAid has produced this report.
According to the report, the richest 64 individuals control as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion people combined. This paper is most concerned with the inequality in power and wealth between elites (especially those at the top in terms of economic wealth) and everyone else (especially those at the bottom — including the 40% of the world’s population who account for just 5% of global income).
Addressing the report Farah Kabir, Country Director of ActionAid Bangladesh, said “When so many of the world’s resources are controlled by so few, we cannot talk about poverty and inequality without also talking about extreme wealth, consumption patterns and elite capture of power. All governments have now promised to act on inequality but almost all are failing to walk the talk. The power of money is ripping societies apart.”
Economic inequality is striking by itself, but it is less well understood how sharply gendered it is. ActionAid has calculated that women in developing countries could be $9 trillion better off if their pay and access to paid work were equal to that of men. In Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia women earn 80% less than men. Meanwhile, women from 32 countries (covering half the world’s female population) contributed as much as $3 trillion in labour value to global healthcare in 2010, nearly half of it unpaid.
In the report, Shazeda Begum, a woman farmer and farmers’ leader, living in Ghoraghat, Dinazpur has been quoted on how for farmers, and especially women farmers, inequality is increasing. She says ‘Our country’s Gross Domestic Product has increased; however, there is little reflection of that in the development of lives of people dependent on agriculture’.
In the report President of Uruguay, José Mujica, has been quoted. President says, “Businesses just want to increase their profits; it’s up to the government to make sure they distribute enough of those profits so workers have the money to buy the goods they produce.”
The report identifies a range of policy solutions that would decrease inequality by redistributing power and wealth in societies, including innovative solutions such as a “maximum wage” (linked to the wage of the lowest paid worker in a company) and better recognition and compensation for women’s unpaid care work. The report addresses the range of inequalities and the interconnections between them – especially how inequalities of gender and ethnicity intersect with inequalities of wealth, and sets out how the fight against inequality is ultimately an issue of power.
To have an equal society Farah Kabir said, “Inequality will not be reduced with warm words and business as usual from political leaders. The focus now needs to shift to the real solutions that people are demanding to fix it – those require a more fundamental transformation. Country like Bangladesh should focus on the creation of more and better jobs for women and men and on ensuring that the rich pay their fair share as a way to pay for social protections for poor and vulnerable communities.”
Redistribute and reduce women’s unpaid care burden is one of the big recommendation of the report. It’s also important for Bangladesh as women spend 6 hours to do unpaid care work in a day where men spend 1 hour.
The report has also given some recommendation to reduce inequality. Those are: Institute a wealth tax. Investing in public services, Ensuring that poor communities —especially women in poor communities — have access to and control over land, Using fiscal and monetary stimulus to get the economy going, Restructuring tax policies, Short-term policies that would lead to a long-term rebalancing of power, Increase corporate democracy—structural shifts towards employee control of companies.