We mentioned why systems oppress people, but now let’s get into how. Institutions alone generally don’t cause the most damage. It’s the way they overlap and work together to reinforce social issues like sexism, racism, and poverty. That really damages our society.
Let’s focus on two different categories: political inequality and economic inequality. First: how do we even measure them?
Time to break it down: Political inequality is a lack of voice or agency, compared to someone else who has a much louder voice. A person can lose their voice because of their gender, race, nationality, or other forms of identity. (Or fine, maybe they have a cold, but don’t even get us started on healthcare.)
One of the best examples of political inequality is systemic racism. The individual struggle of a person of color is not a character flaw or a personal decision. Racism is a system of oppression that affects housing, education, jobs, and all sectors of life in countries across the world. Have a friend who needs convincing? Show them this:
Even when women are elected to office, they are the recipients of sexism from their colleagues as well as from the media. Take former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who in 1998 was asked about the underrepresentation of women in government. He responded with: “If it’s true that men have more power generally speaking than women, is that a bad thing?”
Okay, now let’s look through another lens: economic inequality. Poverty is an issue all over the world, and the gap between the have and have-nots continues to widen. According to most recent statistics, the eight richest men in the world have more wealth than half of the world’s population—meaning that eight men have more cash than 3.7 billion people combined.
Curious about these eight richest men? And yes, that’s right: all men and no women. Want to see their faces?
According to the United Nations, at least 50 percent of people living in poor households are women and girls. Take the United States for an example: More than 100 million Americans live at or below the poverty line, and nearly 70 percent of these Americans are women and children.
Okay, you get the gist of why inequality can be complicated. Ready for how it affects education?