Some facts and figures from the United Nations Millenium Development Goals Report 2010 showing starkly how unequal our world really is and, while we argue over the X-Factor and bin collections, there are some more important issues to be addressed:

•  In all developing regions, children in rural areas are 
more likely to be underweight than urban children. In 
Latin America and the Caribbean and parts of Asia, this 
disparity increased between 1990 and 2008.

•  The gap between the richest and the poorest 
households remains enormous. In Southern Asia, 60 per 
cent of children in the poorest areas are underweight 
compared to 25 per cent of children in the richest 

•  In developing regions overall, girls in the poorest 20 per 
cent of households are 3.5 times more likely to be out 
of school than girls in the richest households and four 
times more likely to be out of school than boys from the 
richest households. 

•  Even in countries close to achieving universal primary 
education, children with disabilities are the majority of 
those excluded.

•  Maternal health is one of the areas in which the gap 
between rich and poor is most conspicuous. While 
almost all births are attended by skilled health personnel 
in the developed countries, less than half of women 
receive such care when giving birth in parts of the 
developing world.

•  Disparities in access to care during pregnancy are also 
striking, with women in the richest households 1.7 times 
more likely to visit a skilled health worker at least once 
before birth than the poorest women. 

•  Lack of education is another major obstacle to 
accessing tools that could improve people’s lives. For 
instance, poverty and unequal access to schooling 
perpetuate high adolescent birth rates, jeopardizing the 
health of girls and diminishing their opportunities for 
social and economic advancement.

•  Contraceptive use is four times higher among women 
with a secondary education than among those with no 
education. For women in the poorest households and 
among those with no education, negligible progress was 
seen over the last decade.

•  Only about half of the developing world’s population 
are using improved sanitation, and addressing 
this inequality will have a major impact on several 
of the MDGs. Disparities between rural and urban 
areas remain daunting, with only 40 per cent of rural 
populations covered. And while 77 per cent of the 
population in the richest 20 per cent of households use 
improved sanitation facilities, the share is only 16 per 
cent of those in the poorest households.