Equal freedoms and opportunities are fundamental to a self determined dignified life Growing inequality on the other hand leads to an erosion of social cohesion and jeopardizes peaceful coexistence Currently proven approaches to reduce in equality such as public access to qual ity education are under pressure in many places Inequality becomes apparent in a variety of dimensions and is based on many different factors social and cultural heritage socio economic background ethnicity religious affiliation race and gender among others These factors often intersect and they can reinforce one another A comprehensive view of the diverse dimensions of inequality and their dynamics is therefore needed to determine why certain groups in a given society are systematically excluded from social progress The lawyer Kimberlé Crenshaw of Colum bia University examined these interactions in the case of Afri can American women and coined the term intersectionality for this approach This analytical framework will serve as a roadmap for the Robert Bosch Stiftung when it explores the causes and consequences of inequali ty The Foundation intends to improve the general knowledge of the dimen sions of inequality and their intersec tions in order to develop solutions together with partners FOCUSSING ON ONE DIMENSION IS NOT ENOUGH Since it is difficult in practice to take into account multiple dimensions of inequality simultaneously many existing programs focus on distinct dimensions such as inequality in education or discrimination against a religious minority However this approach does not do justice to groups disadvantaged in multiple ways If the intersections of various dimensions of inequality are disre garded when devising solutions problems could be made worse Focusing on one dimension frequent ly leads to the treatment of only the symptoms and not the causes of inequality Inequality always has structur al causes such as patriarchal tradi tions racist ideologies or unfair trade practices and supply chains Since too little is known about how various causes and effects are related and especially about how theoretical knowledge can be translated into practical steps to reduce inequality the Robert Bosch Stiftung wants to help amplify what is known about intersectionality For individual dimensions aggregate data surveys and fore casts do exist As for economic inequality the experts aren t very optimistic even though the Gini coefficient a statistical measure for the distribution of income and wealth indicates that global economic inequality is decreasing Within coun tries we will continue to see high levels of income inequality and disparities in wealth and in some areas even an increase Experts often view social inequality as a precursor to economic inequality For example discrimina tion based on gender or ethnicity is often associated with barriers to education political participation and health care Ultimately this results in reduced opportunities to generate income and build wealth NEW DIMENSION ENVIRONMENTAL INEQUALITY Environmental inequality is a com paratively new dimension of inequali ty It includes the consequences of climate change unequal access to food and water and the unequal effects of environmental legislation Climate related natural disasters primarily hit the Global South frequently affecting people who are already disadvantaged such as farmers in dwellings that cannot withstand extreme weather To counter inequality at various levels the Robert Bosch Stiftung first intends to establish better links among experts from the worlds of theory and of practice It also wants to support innovative ideas that develop from concrete projects Last but not least the Foundation wants to adopt a learning role itself and build interdisciplinary exper tise for certain regions and topics Inequality Treating causes not just symptoms A nexus of topics Conflicts climate change migration and inequality are connected in many ways When developing strategy and providing funding the Foundation will treat these topics individually as well as in relation to one another Effective and forward looking solutions can only be developed by taking a big picture view These solutions should be based on cross sector cooperation and the latest scientific research and they should enable ongoing learning 27THE MAGAZINE 2 19

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