Discussion: How can legal empowerment shrink the global inequality gap? (Week 7)

This post is part of 10 Weeks of Action: Demanding funding and protection for grassroots justice defenders* by calling on our community to sign the #JusticeForAll petition. Each week, we will spotlight how access to justice is critical to the advancement of different thematic issues.*

“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” – Nelson Mandela

Nearly half of the world’s population – over 3 billion people – live on less than that $2.50 per day, and more and 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty on less than $1.25 day. (Do Something) Wealth disparity contributes to global inequality. High levels of inequality reduce the efficiency of economic growth in contributing to poverty reduction since the benefits of economic growth flow to affluent groups, rather than the poor. According to Oxfam, the wealthiest 42 people in the world hold as much wealth as the 3.7 billion people who make up the world’s poorest. The Economist recently reported that as inequality grows, so does the political influence of the rich and powerful.

Discrimination in the law fuels inequality, as in many countries, family, nationality, health inheritance, and property laws favor certain groups among others. According to UNHCR, nationality can be denied or deprived through discriminatory practices in at least 20 countries around the world. The OECD has noted often cannot afford to resolve their legal problems through the formal processes in courts, especially from marginalized groups and in remote communities.

In 2015, governments committed to an ambitious agenda known as the Sustainable Development Goals, with a vision for a freer and fairer world by 2030. This agenda itself was framed around ending poverty and inequality, as governments, for the first time ever, made commitments to “leave no one behind” and “put the furthest behind first” when adopting this agenda. This is no easy feat, as it takes a reshifting of the way sustainable development is conceived, implemented, and reviewed.

How do we solve the gross inequality that often interwoven with discrimination against people’s rights?

According to the Fight Inequality Alliance, the solution to inequality is “strengthened people power: connecting from the grassroots and across borders.” Grassroots justice defenders do just that: they use people power to connect communities from the grassroots up to help address systemic injustices and advance access to justice to reduce inequality. Grassroots justice defenders are people who work with their communities, helping them to know, use, and shape the law.

What do you think? Is strengthened people power the answer? How are legal empowerment practitioners shrinking the inequality gap?

We look forward to hearing from you in the comments below.