As the discussion on how to take the global development agenda beyond the original Millennium Development Goals intensifies, IDSN recommends that issues related to caste discrimination be included in this important framework.
An extensive global public consultation on the post-2015 development agenda, led by UN agencies over a period of five months, has recognised caste discrimination as a source of inequality.
Among the key messages listed in the report from the Global Consultation on Inequalities was that “inequalities are often closely associated with and reinforced by specific forms of discrimination, including in the social, legal and cultural spheres.” Examples mentioned include “discrimination related to caste.”
The report includes numerous other references to caste discrimination and notes that members of disadvantaged groups, including those defined by caste, “are found more often than not amongst the poorest and most marginalised in any given state.” Contributors to the consultation also point out that laws in India to protect and advance the status of Dalits have not eliminated harassment and exclusion.
The Synthesis report from the Global Thematic Consultation on Addressing Inequalities in the Post-2015 Development Agenda was released on 7 February. The report is based on and reflects the consultation, held from September 2012 – January 2013 and involving hundreds of written submissions as well as contributions to so-called e-discussions from members of the public and civil society organisations.
As part of this consultation, a Public Dialogue Meeting was held inCopenhagen on 18 February. One of the panellists, Ashok Bharti, chairman of the National Confederation of Dalit Organisations in India, said that an estimated four per cent of the world’s population belong to the Dalit community. He underlined the need for creating an enabling environment to hear their voices, and said that disaggregated data on caste must be produced to address the root causes of inequalities.
The International Dalit Solidarity Network has provided extensive inputs for the global consultation and for the general discussion on the post-2015 development agenda. IDSN recommends that caste discrimination is explicitly addressed as a major structural factor underlying poverty, and as a root cause of structural inequalities in the post-2015 development framework.
Other contributors to the debate, including the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to water and sanitation, and Minority Rights Group International have also recommended that caste discrimination be addressed in the post-2015 agenda.