A blueprint of 17 global goals was set by the United Nations about 5 years ago that aimed at achieving a better and sustainable future for mankind within the 15 years that were to follow. A third of the time has passed and all we have in hand is a global pandemic that is practically coercing people to adopt sustainable ways for survival. However, whether it’s the race towards profitability or ecosystem sustainability, one segment forming a major part of our population is left behind, with trampled rights and demolished identities.
In this text, we discuss the two sustainable development goals that focus on empowering such oppressed segments by discussing the major root problems that need to be addressed and abated as a society.
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
SDG 10 is one of the broader classifications of goals that aim at uplifting the flawed subservient sections of the society that fall prey to longstanding inequalities in terms of various aspects including economic stability, social representation, and ethnicity.
Inequalities in contemporary sex tourism are a reflection of persisting ethnocentric ideologies that encourage the exploitation of the disparity of locals, regardless of gender, consent, and even age, to fulfill the sexual fantasies of the colonially proclaimed ‘elite’ tourists. The very ethnicity that countries of color and culture are proud of, form the crux of the perpetrator sexual fetishes, thus giving birth to a magnanimous market of sex tourism where innocent children, more often than not, fall victim to adult poverty -- a logic that is as skewed as it’s unavoidable. While the United Nations World Tourism Organization is joining forces with UNODC in empowering nations like India, Thailand, Vietnam, among others to combat sex tourism and related exploitations, the staggering numbers and deep routed inequalities need far greater contrived efforts for reduction.
In one of the most reprehensible faces of humans’ proliferating demands lies the darker yet increasing demand of their very species -- humans; which more despicably so is met with higher supply, making human trafficking a global market more than a racket. According to the International Labor Organization, the global annual estimates of profits recorded from forced labor due to human trafficking stood at a whopping $150 billion; each penny ironically made from the exploitation of the victims of poverty and socio-economic inequalities. As the more ‘weaker’ of the entities among humans, children and women are trafficked globally to provide for cheap labor of all sorts -- from modern slavery, pornography, prostitution, to stripping of identity and integrity of the trafficked individual to take the fall for international crimes. While the UN has been taking active initiatives and calling out nations to make concerted efforts through initiatives like Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons and Active Communities against Trafficking; the conviction and prosecution of perpetrators involved statistically continue to remain irrelevant to be expecting a substantial change.
While the World Economic Forum states that out of the 21 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, 68% capitulate to labor exploitation and 22% succumb to sexual exploitation, the lines and figures are still blurred as to where and to what extent the organs of these trafficked humans are being traded. Organ trafficking transcends from more than just trade of flesh and humans; the philanthropic discipline of medicine and organ donation is as black as illegal markets can get. The pattern, like each of the above plaguing atrocities, can be traced back to the economic inequalities that either lead organ sellers to desperation or organ traffickers to feel like entitled oppressors who can buy a portion of their life or in some cases even the whole from the economically lower or outcasted strata.
Muslim oppression and violence in India shoot up with as the Prime Minister governs with extreme right-wing ideologies, puts an entire state with majority Muslim population under military lockdown, the news reaches global media and India faces heavy criticism. Pakistan is called out on global platforms to curb violence and obvious purported thinning of minority populations including Hindus, Ahmadi Muslims, Shias, among others, and faces massive global reproval. Myanmar conducts clearance operations on Rohingyas and the event gets recorded in history as an internationally condemned act of state terrorism. A Black American gets murdered in broad daylight and the world erupts into protests to express denunciation of racial discrimination.
The problem here is clear; we all criticize, condemn, and call out but nothing really changes. Lack of substantial initiatives to harmonize national and international communities is as good as encouraging violent crimes targeted at minorities.
Another deep-rooted underlying problem is that the stigma associated with violence against minorities is popularly classified in religious, racial, and castist aspects, and important socio-cultural factors are often overlooked while addressing the enormity against sections and subsections of minorities. For instance, a report by UNDP discussed how the Trans Murder Monitoring Project recorded a heartbreaking number of over 1700 transphobic killings between 2008 and 2014. While transphobia and violence against minorities with non-conforming sexual orientation are conveniently neglected in socially conservative and economically developing countries, LGBTQ+ homicide in advanced countries like the US still records a higher number of female victims, a subsection of a neglected minority.
Stated above are only four in a million ramifications of inequalities that plague global communities. Weaker sections of developing countries get caught up in the tumultuous downward spiral of diseases, disabilities, and far fetched atrocities and the lack of stringent prosecutions for these will only encourage further emancipation and growth. A life of dignity and independence is as basic as a human right can get, and unless those with authority besides the UN intervene, these sections will continue to be stigmatized and oppressed.
A nation’s growth is not all about the GDP but also the security of people that lose the chance of registering their contributions to that GDP. 5 years have passed in the blink of an eye and we are technically at the brink of a global fallout which makes this very moment the ultimate opportunity to join forces to combat and reduce inequalities. Governments with the power of their resources, thought-leaders with the power of their influences, and organizations with the power of their workforces need to come together and create a society that’s safe from all inequalities and safe for all, through awareness and education.
Education and training are the only weapons that can shift the long-standing indoctrinations and conformities that have instilled a false sense of superiority and entitlement among those from the developed countries. Unless educative measures are coupled with corrective and uplifting measures, we would still be far off from our sustainability goals; which brings us to the very SDG focused on improving and reinforcing quality education among all sections.
SDG 4: Quality Education
UNDP Philippines recognizes that while developed countries and their urban infrastructure have long left behind the menace of diseases like measles, HIV, and tuberculosis, developing countries are still grappling with them, fighting tooth and nail to keep their population alive. According to the data provided by UNDP Philippines, 16,000 children die every day by treatable diseases and thousands of teenagers succumb to easily avoidable diseases -- a clear indicator of how education and awareness could be instrumental in a healthier nation.
The Philippines has emerged as a leading country coming forward to take active measures early on, one of them being the Philippines Development Plan (PDP) 2017-2022 that was devised to meet sustainable goals for the country. It also has actively become a member of The Steering Committee, an international body set up to see through the implementation of practices to achieve SDG 4, as of 2018. The Filipino Government lays a major emphasis on education as the root of the eradication of inequalities and achieving inclusivity in society, a purpose that is as dear to the nation as is sustainability. The long-term plan is devised and has advanced training of teachers and grass-root level access of education to students at its crux.
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Finally, coming to the question that arises in most minds when overwhelming information pertaining to brutal realities are slapped into our faces: What can we do about it?
To collate efforts from individual levels, we as a community need leaders that step up and rise to the occasion, from the very individual levels. There’s only so much that organizations, however powerful, can do from up there. More and more highly advanced programs are cropping up across the world that helps individual match international competence and leadership skills of global leaders, to substantiate and bring about constructive changes towards sustainability.
If your apparent lack of power or influence is what’s holding you back, with leadership programs like the one offered by Athena Wisdom Institute, there will be no stopping. For instance, OWL leadership program offered by the institute integrates three important approaches -- Oneness (or unification), Wisdom (or critical decision making), and Leadership (or trailblazing administration) -- to create a highly efficacious program that upgrades you and your skills to become a leader of tomorrow.
Join the program today, and see yourself standing at the forefront of the global force striving to attain not only reduced inequality and quality education but also the fifteen other goals that the world desperately needs to reach for a better future.