President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for concerted global action to reduce inequality.
Speaking in the UN General Assembly, President Kenyatta hailed the progress made during the past 15 years through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in improving living standards in poor countries.
“However we must acknowledge that progress has been uneven across the world and across the Goals. There remain huge disparities between and within countries,” Mr Kenyatta noted.
Speaking earlier at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) summit meeting, the President pointed to “glaring examples of inequality globally” in his opening remarks at an interactive session that he co-chaired with the President of Croatia.
The theme of the meeting was “Tackling inequalities, empowering women and girls, and leaving no one behind.”
Incomes at the bottom of the prosperity scale have fallen in recent years, even as austerity measures in many countries have worsened the situation, Mr Kenyatta said.
“Millions of people, especially women and children, have been left behind by the MDGs,” the President observed.
He, however, expressed optimism that efforts to achieve the SDGs by 2030 will produce gains for the poor.
“Inequality can be tackled. Public spending on high-quality education and health care reduces inequality,” he told the interactive session at UN headquarters.
While the private sector can and should contribute significantly to attaining the SDGs, governments will play an important role because they can address market failures, Mr Kenyatta said.
The President also struck positive notes in his speech later in the day to the Sustainable Development Goals summit.
MANY MDGS ACHIEVED
Mr Kenyatta told an audience of fellow world leaders in the General Assembly Hall that many of the MDGs had been achieved.
He cited steep drops in the number of people living in severe poverty as well as in the infant mortality rate.
Life expectancy worldwide rose from 63 to 65 years, while over 100 million people have been uplifted from slums, he noted.
He noted that Kenya has made tremendous progress over the past decade.
Gender parity has been reached in the primary school cycle, with gains also made in the secondary and tertiary level, Mr Kenyatta added.
He said that his government has introduced several measures to promote gender mainstreaming.
Charges for maternity services in the Kenya’s public health facilities have been eliminated, the President added.
The immunisation rate for children under one year old has risen to 85 per cent, he noted.
Adequate resources must be made available if the “extremely ambitious” SDG agenda is to be implemented, Mr Kenyatta said.
“Of course we recognise that the primary responsibility for development in our countries shall first and foremost lie with us.
“However, resources from our development partners will be critical,” President Kenyatta noted.