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Source: Small Island Developing States

17 September 2019: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation released ‘The Goalkeepers Report 2019,’ which finds that inequality is a major barrier to achieving the SDGs. The Foundation’s annual report card on global SDG progress calls for designing human capital investments to “reach girls and prioritize those countries and districts that have to make up the most ground.”

The report, titled ‘Examining Inequality: How Geography and Gender Stack the Desk For (Or Against) You,’ argues that every person should have an “equal opportunity to lead a healthy, productive life.” The report illustrates how inequality impacts individuals’ lives; for example, a child in Chad is 55 times more likely to die than a child in Finland. A child in Chad also faces worsening droughts and food insecurity from climate change, among many other disadvantages. The report’s analysis finds that, although inequality between countries has narrowed “it still remains enormous.”

Where you are born is more predictive of your future than any other factor.

The report finds also that global development investments do not reach everyone, and it declares “where you are born is more predictive of your future than any other factor.” The report uses district-level data on human capital, which illustrates “massive” inequality between districts in individual countries and underscores how averages can mask inequalities within countries. For example, in Kollam district in Kerala state, India, the average person has more than 14 years of education and 1% of children die young. In Budaun district in Uttar Pradesh, the average person has six years of education and over 8% of children die young. The report finds that nearly two-thirds of children in low- and low-middle income countries live in districts that will not reach the SDG target for child mortality by 2030, and one-third live in districts that will not reach the SDG target by 2050. The report calls for accelerating the fight against geographical inequality to ensure more districts excel and have a chance to meet the SDGs.

Regardless of where you are born, life will be harder for you if you are a girl.

On gender inequality, the report states that, regardless of where you are born, life will be harder for you if you are a girl. The lives of girls and boys “really start to diverge” at adolescence: after girls reach 15 years, the proportion of girls who do at least two hours per day of unpaid domestic work almost doubles. By the time she is an adult, the average woman spends over four hours per day on unpaid work compared to an average of one hour for men. The report further highlights inequalities in access to education and jobs for women and girls, stressing that this lack of access is “destructive for everyone” and keeps women disempowered, limits their children’s lives and slows economic growth. The report further highlights how discriminatory laws and policies, gender-based violence and social norms limit girls’ opportunities.

The report concludes that “guaranteeing that every single child has access to good health and education systems” is an achievable goal and recommends prioritizing primary healthcare and ensuring all schools provide a high-quality education. The report showcases examples of countries and organizations that deliver basic healthcare, improve basic skills and have improved services for their citizens.

The Goalkeepers Report also showcases signs of progress related to primary healthcare in Africa, digital inclusion in India and climate adaptation in Ethiopia. To achieve better health results with limited budgets, the report recommends three things: spend a little more; spend on the right priorities, such as improving primary health care for everyone; and spend more efficiently. The Government of Ethiopia is investing in sustainable land management and launched a Climate Resilient Green Economy strategy to promote environmental stewardship, sustainable land management and resilience against droughts.

On data, the report shares progress on 18 indicators most closely related to the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The report also explores the relationship between inequality and maternal mortality, stunting and neglected tropical diseases, using examples of countries that have made noteworthy progress. For example, the report describes how the Government of Peru created a health insurance system for the poor, targeted key health and nutrition interventions to prioritize those who needed them most, and implemented a conditional cash transfer program to encourage women in targeted areas to use health, education and nutrition services, all of which contributed to a reduction in stunting and narrowed the gap between the poorest and richest.

The Foundation will produce a Goalkeepers report every year through 2030 to track progress on the SDGs, highlight successes and inspire leaders around the world to accelerate their efforts. Bill and Melinda Gates will host the third annual Goalkeepers Event on the sidelines of the UNGA High-level Debate to highlight the importance of closing the inequality gap to achieve the SDGs. [Gates Foundation Press Release] [Publication: Examining Inequality] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on Goalkeepers Report 2018] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on 2018 Goalkeepers Event]

MIL OSI Asia Pacific News