The pristine white snow and luxury hotels of the Swiss town of Davos formed the backdrop recently to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum; the most significant gathering of the planet's foremost economic, business and political brains. Three days of speeches, discussions and dinners that truly have an influence of global proportions...
I agree with Mark Goldring of Oxfam GB that a crackdown on global tax havens is a necessary step towards ending this rampant global inequality. Indeed, it is also a necessary step towards international development more broadly... A Labour Government will genuinely tackle tax avoidance and work for ambitious global agreements on international development that seek to tackle inequality and its drivers.
What sort of system have we created that relentlessly siphons wealth from the poor to the richest 1%, and in the process deprives humanity of the resources that could bring happiness, contentment and joy to billions of people? When, oh when, will world leaders take concrete steps to remedy this injustice and unfairness?
As Christine Lagarde, mother, head of the IMF and star of the global stage arrives at Davos this week, Hannah Haciku mother, entrepreneur and village authority will be working hard to feed and clothe her three children in Kenya. Two women, two very different lives. Christine may face a glass ceiling, the one Hannah faces is more like a steel one.
Inequality has been shown to impact on the durability of economic growth and increases the chances of future financial shocks; it undermines social cohesion and equality for women; and it increases political instability. In a surprising echo to Aicha's words, the self-proclaimed zillionaire Nick Hanauer wrote in 2014 that "if we don't do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us"... Economic and policy changes in recent decades - including deregulation, privatisation, financial secrecy and globalisation, especially of finance - have supercharged the age-old ability of the rich and powerful to use their position to further concentrate their wealth.
Debate over the level of female participation at global events like the WEF is, of course, important, but we must also look beyond the figures. We must remember that those women who are being heard on such stages are having an enormous impact. Many of the sessions and events I attended at this year's WEF addressed issues of equal opportunity, diversity and women's empowerment - and it was notable that many of these conversations were being driven by women with a real sense of hope and determination.
It may be a rebalance of the economic powers, but the planet is far from being the place of equality. Oxfam claims that "in 2010, it took 388 billionaires to equal the wealth of the bottom half of the world's population and by 2014, the figure had fallen to just 80 billionaires." If the trend continues, warns the humanitarian group, in two years the richest 1% will have more than the remaining 99%.