Human Development Report 1993

People's Participation

People's participation is becoming the central issue of our time. The democratic transition in many developing countries, the collapse of many socialist regimes, and the worldwide emergence of people's organizations- these are all part of a historic change, not just isolated events.

People today have an urge-an impatient urge-to participate in the events and processes that shape their lives. And that impatience brings many dangers and opportunities. It can dissolve into anarchy, ethnic violence or social disintegration. But if properly nurtured in a responsive national and global framework, it can also become a source of tremendous vitality and innovation for the creation of new and more just societies.

The dangers arise as the irresistible urge for participation clashes with inflexible systems. Although the achievements in human development have been significant during the past three decades, the reality is continuing exclusion. More than a billion of the world's people still languish in absolute poverty, and the poorest fifth find that the richest fifth enjoy more than 150 times their income. Women still earn only half as much as men-and despite constituting more than half the votes, have great difficulty securing even 10% representation in parliaments. Rural people in developing countries still receive less than half the income opportunities and social services available to their urban counterparts. Many ethnic minorities still live like a separate nation within their own countries. And political and economic democracy is still a reluctant process in several countries. Our world is still a world of difference.

Human Development Concepts and Measurement