(Expansion) – Human progress is an indisputable reality. In the last two centuries -and in particular in the last decades- people’s quality of life has improved substantially. There we have strong indicators, such as the increase in life expectancy, the radical decrease in the infant mortality rate, literacy levels, among many others.
It is no exaggeration to say that the average individual today has greater comforts than the richest and most powerful king of 500 years ago -travel by motorized vehicles, television and the Internet, access to medicines and antibiotics, air conditioning, and a long etcetera.
Sometimes, the perception that we live in a world in crisis absorbs us and we lose some perspective to recognize that, obviously, the world has advanced in many areas for the benefit of humanity.
However, aware that progress is largely due to historical struggles and social mobilization to demand rights and opportunities for development, it is pertinent to observe those pending issues that still, in the XXI century, continue to hurt us as societies.
At first glance, the latent inequalities around the world are presented as one of the debts that we have as a human species, if we aspire to create a future of justice and authentic peace, which translates into fullness and harmony for all.
The problem is that inequality represents an extraordinarily complex phenomenon, as it manifests itself in different dimensions: the economic gap between rich and poor; discrimination based on race or ethnic origin; historical oppression of women.
In addition, there are expressions of inequality that are beginning to appear strongly in the contemporary era, such as the lack of access to the internet in marginalized communities, or the impact of climate change that will have a greater impact on the most vulnerable populations and with less answer’s capacity.
It is undeniable that 100 years ago inequality was much more pronounced than it is today. What has allowed us to move forward to reduce the gap between the privileged minorities and the unprotected popular masses? Multiple factors: the universal democratic vote, the advancement of the feminist agenda, access to public education, anti-discrimination laws, and social programs.
In this order of ideas, through public policies and fiscal taxation (taxes), the governments of the countries of the world make an effort to promote the redistribution of income, attending to the needs of the most vulnerable, and generating strategies to compensate for inequalities that sometimes have dragged on for several decades -such as the segregation of some indigenous communities-.
Although I consider the action of the rulers and public institutions to be fundamental in order to continue advancing in the construction of more egalitarian societies, I am also convinced that blaming only the government authorities or the political class for the inequality gaps that remain is to fall into oversimplification, giving in to a sterile temptation.
It is time to change paradigms and for each of the actors in society to assume their responsibility to address inequality in its different dimensions.
Of course, betting on education and access to culture will be decisive. Countries with higher levels of schooling and whose population reads more books per year have lower rates of inequality. Promoting school scholarship programs and campaigns to encourage the habit of reading can be a first step.
Establishing, once and for all, a society of equal opportunities and rights for women and men is key, because the wage gap and the lack of space in senior management positions for female leaders is an unacceptable injustice. The rise to decision-making of a new generation of corporate managers gives us a glimmer of hope.
Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion or origin is an expression of hatred that corrupts communities, making healthy coexistence impossible in the medium and long term. The fact that universities and intellectual circles are increasingly talking about this issue and seeking solutions is promising.
Inequality is an evil that hurts society, and of course, slows down the development and progress of the human species. Accepting that there is still a long way to go is an urgent condition to unite wills in a co-responsible manner, and establish an agenda that will lead us, through wide-ranging actions, to build the future of equality and harmony to which we should aspire.
Editor’s note: José Guillermo Fournier Ramos is a professor at the Universidad Anáhuac Mayab. Vice President of Masters AC, a civil association that promotes effective communication and social leadership. He is also a communication and image consultant, analyst and doctoral student in Government. Follow him on and on . The opinions expressed in this column belong exclusively to the author.