Equality can be understood as parity in the enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms, and equality of opportunities with regards to education and work and the fulfillment of one’s potential. Equity relates to a degree of equality in the living conditions of people, especially in terms of income and wealth, that society considers desirable. Reduction of inequalities is then justified by equity considerations.
The 1995 World Social Summit stressed that a people-centered approach to development must be based on the principles of equity and equality, so that all individuals have access to resources and opportunities. In the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action social justice, equity and equality reflect the concept of a just society ensuring the equitable distribution of income and greater access to resources through equity and equality of opportunity for all. Public policies have to correct market failures and promote equity and social justice. World Social Summit identified several ways Governments can promote equality and social justice:
◾Ensuring people are equal before law
◾Carrying out policies with a view to equalization of opportunities
◾Expanding and improving access to basic services
◾Providing equal opportunities in public-sector employment
◾Encouraging formation of cooperatives and community-based institutions
◾Minimize negative effects of structural adjustment programmes
◾Promoting full access to preventive and curative health care
◾Expanding basic education, improving its quality, enhancing access to formal and non-formal learning, ensuring equal access to education.
Over the past decades, inequalities in income distribution and access to productive resources, basic social services, opportunities, markets, and information have been on the rise worldwide, often causing and exacerbating poverty. Globalization occurs in the absence of a social agenda, aimed at mitigating the negative impacts of globalization on vulnerable groups of society.
New technologies are powerful tools for poverty eradication, economic, sustainable and social development. They help disseminate valuable information on public services, health care, education and training, livelihoods and rights, and also connect individuals and groups with one another, thereby improving social inclusion; and facilitating citizen participation.
By using new technologies, poor people have experienced benefits in the form of for example increased income; better health care; improved education and training; access to job opportunities; engagement with government services; contacts with family and friends; enterprise development opportunities; increased agricultural productivity, and so on.
The objective of this panel is to discuss how the digital innovations can be used to strengthen the social pillar of sustainable development and reduce poverty and inequalities through the use of new technologies.
Social protection is now a challenge; it is not merely a set of economic policies in the workplace and in the areas of production. Rather, it is also a set of measures in the social sphere, which allows substantial contributions to the generation of frameworks of equality, by reducing the gaps in inequality and the eradication of poverty and social exclusion.
It is necessary to analyze the impact of fiscal contraction trends and public expenditure adjustment which have been identified in a number of countries on those most vulnerable in society. In this context, it is necessary to consider the most appropriate social policies to protect these groups while taking into account the UN Social Protection Floor initiative which calls for universal access to essential social transfers and services.
There is a growing consciousness of the benefits of social protection as a measure to protect people from becoming trapped in poverty, to empower them to seize opportunities, to help workers to adjust to changes and to deal with unemployment and thus support productivity. Therefore, the importance of social policies and social protection systems that address and reduce inequality and social exclusion for long-term sustainable and inclusive growth and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals should be taken into consideration.
In keeping with the objectives of the International Year of the Family, and based on existing research, the current publication aims to promote the knowledge of trends affecting families and increase awareness of family issues among Governments as well as in the private sector. It is also hoped that the study will stimulate efforts to develop family-oriented policies focusing attention upon the rights and responsibilities of all family members. Promoting knowledge of the economic, social and demographic processes affecting families and their members is indispensable to design appropriate course of action to assist families in fulfilling their numerous functions. These overall considerations have guided the preparations of the current publication, which addresses the issue of the evolving roles of men in families and the corresponding need to develop social policies supporting these new roles for the benefit of families.