Social inequality is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. For Latin America —the world’s most unequal region— social inequality also represents a structural feature and therefore a fundamental challenge. In response to the mandate conferred upon the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) by the countries at the Regional Conference on Social Development in Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Lima in November 2015, this document pursues the analysis of the social inequality matrix in the region.
The analysis focuses on some of the main axes that serve to structure social inequality (gender, ethnicity, race, age or stage of the life cycle, and territory) in order to illustrate how they influence the depth of the equality gaps, their persistence over time and their reproduction. Often, the multiple dimensions of inequality concatenate, intersect and exacerbate one other, hitting certain population groups harder than others. The analysis of the multiple dimensions must be taken on board and developed further if the countries are to advance along the path towards sustainable development.
On the basis of this analysis, the document concludes with several policy recommendations, which include the need to: build linkages between economic, production, labour, social and environmental policies; apply a comprehensive rights-based approach to policies on combating inequality; strengthen institutions and forge social compacts as the foundation of good-quality social policies; protect social spending and tax revenues allocated to social development; and increase statistical capabilities to give visibility to the different dimensions of inequality and advance their understanding. Lastly, the culture of privilege must give way to a culture of equality, which calls for policies oriented towards a universality that is sensitive to differences.