SDG10: REDUCED INEQUALITIES

INTRODUCTION

The Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030), also known by its acronym SDGs, are an initiative promoted by the United Nations to give continuity to the development agenda after the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There are 17 objectives and 169 targets proposed as a continuation of the MDGs, including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption and peace, and justice, among other priorities. After a negotiation process on the SDGs that involved 193 member states of the UN, on September 25, 2015, the 193 world leaders approved at a summit held in New York in a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly, an Agenda entitled “Transform our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ", which entered into force on January 1, 2016.

The 10th goal of the Sustainable Development Goals calls for reducing economic, social, legal and political inequality based on age, gender, special needs, race, religion, economic status or any other situation by adopting policies that protect equal human rights for all. In developing countries, inequality rates have increased by more than (12%) percent if we take into account population growth rates. These widening disparities require the adoption of sound policies to empower lower income groups and promote economic inclusion for all.

Inequality within and between countries is a constant cause of concern. Although there are some positive signs towards a trend to reduce inequalities, such as reducing relative income inequality in some countries and directing benefits to low-income countries through preferential trade, the disparity still exists. On the economic level, the Coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the global unemployment crisis, has drastically reduced workers' income, and has jeopardized the limited progress that has been made in terms of gender equality and women's rights over the past decades.

Lebanon faces several levels of inequalities, including income, consumption and social status, especially between Beirut and the rural areas. Geographical disparities are exacerbated by the way financing is distributed among municipalities in the countryside. Although Lebanon does not have a civil law that guarantees equal treatment in personal status issues, the 10th goal of the Sustainable Development Goals constitutes an attraction factor for the initiatives of private institutions in Lebanon in terms of social responsibility, reducing differences, and promoting the development of social progress among various social strata.

Over the past years, Lebanon has implemented a set of social, economic and political policy measures to correct imbalances in inequalities. Social protection policies are gaining attention, especially through the Ministry of Public Health's coverage of people with no health insurance, and the expansion of the primary health network that provides consultations and medicines almost free of charge, the expansion of beneficiary network and SDG programs, and the upgrade of the public education sector.

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality


Over the years, Lebanon has implemented a number of social, economic and political policy measures to correct imbalances; however, reducing inequalities remains a challenge.

When considering “ensuring equal opportunity and reducing inequalities of outcome” (SDG Target 10.3), the World Bank’s inequality-adjusted 2015 human development index shows that Lebanon faces notable inequality of opportunities and outcomes among its citizens, particularly regarding income and education, and to a lesser extent health. The index loses 21 per cent because of losses mainly from income and education inequality compared to the values of the non-inequality-adjusted human development index.

In terms of social, economic and political inclusion (Target 10.2), some progress in certain areas like gender is observed. Part of the challenge is due to weak opportunity and disparities in quality between public and private services – whether real or perceived – people tend to complement or completely substitute public services with private ones, and this accentuates inequalities.

Economic exclusion is reflected in a high informality rate where the vast majority of the poor work under unfavorable working conditions with limited decent job opportunities creation.

Geographical disparities in accessibility to services further compound economic and social forms of inequality.

The Lebanese University built many campuses and implemented many branches of its faculty on all the Lebanese territory, in order to reduce inequalities and to give equal chances to all student’s resident in Lebanon to access to the higher education. So even the students with modest financial capabilities could pursue their higher studies. Moreover, the Lebanese University put a plan to build more campuses in new areas in order to give more chance to all students willing to continue their studies, knowing that the number of enrolled students at the Lebanese University is increasing gradually, and knowing that the Syrian refugee crisis that affected Lebanon, requires more premises and more campuses covering the higher educational needs.

The Lebanese University established an agreement on 22 August 2018 with the United Nations Educational, scientific and cultural organization (UNESCO) and the Hariri Foundation for sustainable human development (HFSHD), (doc 63) aiming to enhance research-policy linkage as being an effective approach to promote participatory decision-making and to boost governance in addressing multiple issues of complexity of social transformations in Lebanon.

The international Labour Organization (ILO) was established in 1919 based on the conviction that universal and lasting peace can only be based on social justice and social dialogue, with a tripartite structure, bringing Governments, Workers and Employers together to promote social justice and the “humanisation” of the labour market. In 1946, the ILO became the first Specialized Agency of the UN. Since its inception the ideals of social justice and decent work has been at the heart of the ILOs mandate, with the international labour standards at the core of its work to ensure decent conditions for workers.

The Decent Work agenda, which today is the basis for the ILOs work, defines the concept of Decent Work as: “…involving opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men.”

Inequality of opportunities, inequality across generations, inequality between women and men, inequality in income and wealth are all forms of inequality that are developing and growing in many countries

However, they can be addressed if international will is available starting with:

  • Reviewing fiscal policies, progressive taxation, use digital tools in tax collection, and boost domestic revenues;

  • Using gender-responsive budgeting to organize spending and taxes in a way that achieves further progress in gender equality, which increases women's participation in the workforce and thus, promotes growth and stability;

  • Properly applying social spending policies to address inequality, as this will play a major role in mitigating income inequality and its effects on equality of opportunity and social cohesion;

  • Reforming educational programs and preparing youth to become productive citizens who contribute to the renaissance of their societies;

  • Carrying out reforms in the structure of the economy, which could provide additional support to efforts of reducing inequality, because effective labor market policies would enhance labor skills and reduce long periods of unemployment.

In conclusion, the achievement of SDG 10 imposes a shift in societal values and a multifaceted approach to policies that takes into account the interlinkages within the social sector and between the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development while ensuring that policy decisions are made and implemented in a participatory, fair, transparent and accountable manner.

The public Lebanese University offers free education for all Lebanese citizens. Students with special needs benefit from the same facilities and measures applied in all public institutions. Measures are rather applied on a case-by-case basis. The Palestinian and Syrian students are treated equally as the Lebanese nationals, but there is no educational support provided to these students to help them overcome difficulties in language or in other learning competences.

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Lebanese University encourages a diverse student body and workforce and is committed to the principle of equal opportunity in education and employment. Consistent with this commitment and with Lebanese laws, it is the policy of Lebanese University not to tolerate any kind of discrimination, discriminatory harassment, or sexual harassment misconduct (as described in the policies​) and to provide those who feel they are victims of any kind of discriminatory harassment (including sexual harassment) with mechanisms for seeking redress, as described in the procedures​.

Discrimination

Lebanese University prohibits discrimination against any member of the Lebanese University community on the basis of any “Protected Characteristics” (listed below) or any other legally protected characteristic under applicable Lebanese law.

Protected Characteristics

Protected Characteristics include race, color, religion, age, national or ethnic identity, sex, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, marital status, disability, genetic predisposition or carrier status, alienage or citizenship status, and political affiliation.

This prohibition against discrimination and discriminatory harassment apply to all of Lebanese University activities, including, but not limited to, the administration of its educational, admissions, and employment policies; recruitment, hiring, compensation, assignment, training, promotion, performance evaluation, discipline and discharge; and other university programs and activities.

Discriminatory Harassment

Lebanese University also prohibits conduct that constitutes harassment and that shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group on the basis of their “Protected Characteristics” or any other legally protected characteristic under applicable Lebanese law.

For purposes of this policy, “harassment” refers to conduct that has the intent or effect of:

  • Unreasonably interfering with an individual’s or group’s educational or work performance; or

  • Creating a subjectively and objectively hostile, intimidating, or offensive educational, work, or living environment.

To assess whether the alleged conduct has created a hostile environment, the University considers all relevant evidence, weighs a variety of factors, and evaluates the conduct at issue from both a subjective and objective perspective. The University will examine the totality of the circumstances surrounding the conduct, including its nature, pervasiveness, severity, the relationship between the parties and the context in which the conduct occurred and whether it unreasonably interfered with, limited, or deprived a member of the community of the ability to participate in or to receive benefits, services, or opportunities from the University’s education or employment programs and/or activities.

Harassment does not require intent to offend or intimidate. Thus, inappropriate conduct or communication (verbal, physical, written, graphic, electronic, media or other) meant as a joke or a prank can lead or contribute to harassment in violation of this policy.

Discriminatory harassment may occur between people of equivalent status. It is especially serious, however, when it involves abuse of power or authority, such as by a faculty or staff member over a student, faculty or staff member over a subordinate.