• Time to end extreme inequality

Foreword by Graça Machel Founder, Graça Machel Trust

The last decades have seen incredible human progress – across Africa and the world. But this progress is under threat from the scourge of rapidly rising inequality.

This report from Oxfam is a stark and timely portrait of the growing inequality which characterises much of Africa and the world today. Seven out of ten people live in countries where inequality is growing fast, and those at the top of society are leaving the rest behind.

Addressing the gap between the richest people and the poorest and the impact this gap has on other pervasive inequalities between men and women and between races that make life for those at the bottom unbearable is an imperative of our times. Too many children born today have their future held hostage by the low income of their parents, their gender and their race.

The good news is that this growing inequality is not inevitable. It can be resolved. The report contains many examples of success to give us inspiration. I hope that many people from government officials, business and civil society leaders, and bilateral and multilateral institutions will examine this report, reflect on its recommendations and take sustained actions which will tackle the inequality explosion.

Kofi Annan Chair of the Africa Progress Panel, former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Nobel Laureate

The widening gap between rich and poor is at a tipping point. It can either take deeper root, jeopardising our efforts to reduce poverty, or we can make concrete changes now to reverse it. This valuable report by Oxfam is an exploration of the problems caused by extreme inequality and the policy options governments can take to build a fairer world, with equal opportunities for us all. This report is a call to action for a common good. We must answer that call.

Professor Joseph Stiglitz Columbia University, winner of Nobel Prize for Economics

The extreme inequalities in incomes and assets we see in much of the world today harms our economies, our societies, and undermines our politics. Whilst we should all worry about this it is of course the poorest who suffer most, experiencing not just vastly unequal outcomes in their lives, but vastly unequal opportunities too. Oxfam's report is a timely reminder that any real effort to end poverty has to confront the public policy choices that create and sustain inequality.

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