Ilyas Muhammad (second from left) discussed these topics at an Aug. 17 World Bank forum.
Courtesy of Ilyas Muhammed

Income inequality is increasing day by day and it seems like the world is helpless to solve the problem.  

Take the gender wage gap. On average. a woman earns 80 percent what a man earns, even with the same level of responsibilities. This gap is not based on skill sets — it’s just women being paid less than men.  

There’s also a growing racial wage gap. The figures are astonishing: A study by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found the average earnings of Black men had declined by 10 percent in recent years relative to White men. In 1979, Black men earned 80 percent of what White men earned, while now it is about 70 percent, or $18 per hour for Black men versus $25 for White men.  

Similarly, in D.C., the median annual income for White families is $120,000, while it is $41,000 for Black families, according to D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute data cited in a Georgetown University report about employment and housing trends for African Americans in the District.  

Even as wages have increased for other ethnic groups, Black men’s pay lags by 30 percent. Efforts have been made in the form of advocacy on different levels, but the prevailing figures don’t show any significant impact.  

We can’t blame the corporate sector for all this because, in cases like this, governments have to play their role. If the gaps are widening day by day and the government is silent, it shows that a specific set of people are given priority while others are ignored.  

Improving access to education, health facilities, and safer environments can help a lot in getting rid of the gender and ethnic gaps. Boosting small and medium-level enterprises could be the start to get to reduce the wage gaps, enhancing economic empowerment, and a sense of civic citizenship. We have time to act and overcome the challenges of wage inequality, extreme poverty, and inclusive society.