ESCAP’s inequality of opportunity analysis uses two new methodological tools to measure inequalities in the distribution of basic services and to identify those who are furthest behind in the same areas of development. In both methods, population groups are defined by common circumstances over which the individual has little or no direct control.
The analysis explores inequalities in key areas affecting a person’s life prospects: education, women’s access to sexual or reproductive health, women’s early pregnancy, child marriage, the rationale for violence against women, financial inclusion and internet use, and child nutrition. These opportunities and obstacles are covered by specific commitments described in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This report begins by examining the overall inequality in opportunity levels, placing Kiribati among other countries in the Asia-Pacific region (Section 2). It then zooms in to Kiribati to identify the common circumstances of the population groups that are most left out in areas of high inequality (section 3).
1.1 Selected variables
In Kiribati, nine opportunities and two barriers are identified where significant inequalities prevent people from realizing their potential. Variables are selected based on their availability in the MICS dataset, their link to the SDG indicators, and their importance for overall development.
Basic drinking water: Clean water is not only vital for survival, but also to support a healthy and productive population. Access to safe drinking water is essential for achieving gender equality and empowering women, as women typically bear the brunt of collecting safe water.
Basic sanitation: Using improved facilities that are not shared with other households and where excreta is safely disposed of helps maintain health and increase lifespan. Inequality in basic sanitation threatens human dignity and constitutes a major economic and health burden.
Access to clean fuels: Reliable and affordable energy services are essential for everyday life. Equal access to clean energy increases productivity, reduces health disparities and strengthens gender equality.
Electricity: Access to electricity underlies several other crucial opportunities, such as the use of the internet and modern medical treatments. Reliable electricity greatly reduces the household workload and creates additional opportunities for entrepreneurship or increasing secondary or higher education level.
Internet use: ICTs are essential for boosting productivity and economic activity, enabling knowledge and information sharing, and expanding service delivery. Inequality in Internet use creates deep divides that are expected to widen as technology reshapes life.
Prevalence of women’s attitudes towards domestic violence: Acceptance of the use of violence to defend certain gender roles in society may signal a broader acceptance of violence against women in intimate relationships. These gender roles include a woman going out without telling her husband, neglecting the children, arguing with him, refusing to have sex with him, or burning food. .
Demand for family planning satisfied by modern methods: Using modern contraceptive methods remains the first step towards positive sexual or reproductive health outcomes for all women. Inequality in the use of modern contraceptives makes some women more likely to experience unintended pregnancies, which can lead to disability and even death. Shortly spaced births also have important cognitive and nutritional consequences for children.
Secondary and higher education diploma: Inequality in education matters because more education often translates into better jobs with higher incomes and a chance to break patterns of poverty and vulnerability. Inequality in access to basic sanitation and clean fuels is also associated with inequality in educational attainment.
Growth retardation in children under 5 years of age: Inequality in the nutrition levels of children (or of pregnant women and nursing mothers) is important because good nutrition is the foundation upon which developmental progress rests. As children receive poorer nutrition, they are therefore more likely to be stunted and face the cognitive and developmental consequences of long-term malnutrition.
Ownership of bank account: Having a bank account encourages savings, allows people to get loans, and provides a secure channel for payments in the form of remittances, government money transfers, and salaries. Unequal access to formal financial services amplifies existing divisions within communities and societies.