The Role of Psychology in Addressing Worldwide Challenges of Poverty and Gender Inequality

The United Nations has identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) designed to improve the health and well-being of the world's most vulnerable populations. The authors illustrate the potential role of psychology – in particular, illustrative theories and research – in achieving two SDGs: SDG 1 (reduce poverty) and SDG 5 (achieve gender equality and empowerment). We selectively consider life span (individual) developmental and life course (environmental structure) theories as useful for explaining how poverty and inequality influence the individual and community at individual points in time and over time. Further, we use both the theoretical approach outlined in the convoy model of social relations as well as multinational empirical evidence to illustrate how naturally occurring resources can be garnered to better explain, understand, identify, and create successful intervention programs. We emphasize that psychology is fundamental to achieving SDGs and that we should focus on how to change the behavior and expectations of individuals and societies to achieve sustainable development that contributes to a world that celebrates optimal and sustainable development for all.