In 2015, seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by world leaders to guide global development agendas for the next 15 years. Yet, to date, the indicators measuring the achievement of the SDGs have not been finalised. On 17-18 November 2016, the Inter-Agency and Expert Group (IAEG) on the SDGs held its 4th meeting, aiming to finalise global development indicators.
Civil society organisations have been involved at different stages in preparing the SDGs’ goals and targets, and now indicators, measuring its success. In July 2016, Asia Dalit Rights Forum, a civil society network advocating for Dalit rights, organised side events to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2016 – Ensuring that no one is left behind. It included a capacity building workshop aiming to build an international Dalit Diaspora movement for international interventions, and two side events on the inclusion of the most marginalised and socially excluded communities in the SDGs.
One of the side events placed an emphasis on marginalised women and hosted Ms. Rita Izsak-Ndiaye, Special Rapporteur of Minority Issues. It was noted at the event that women are systematically discriminated in the patriarchal institutional structure everywhere and face various hurdles in achieving development goals and targets, and accessing services and goods. However, women from caste affected communities faces multi-structured discrimination, based on their gender, caste, class and religion.
At the 4th IAEG meeting Asia Dalit Rights Forum aimed to highlight the need to include caste-based discrimination in the SDGs’ indicators and ensure the inclusion of 260 million of people discriminated on the grounds of caste, work and decent. The organisation was concerned about the resistance to include targets to address caste-based discrimination not only within the SDGs itself but also in its indicators.
In anticipation to the 4th meeting Asia Dalit Rights Forum prepared an intervention document, highlighting the need for disaggregated development data and including caste-based discrimination in the finalised SDGs’ indicators.
‘The absence of discrimination based on work and descent (DWD) from the SDG main document, goals and targets as well as the global indicators are clear evidence that there is less to no recognition of DWD in the global agenda of development. While on one hand the SDGs stand for transparency, accountability and participation with inclusion of all populations, on the other hand, it structurally excludes the traditionally marginalised and socially excluded populations’.
The 4th IAEG meeting on the SDGs concluded to ‘review each type of disaggregation (sex, age, location, income, etc.)’, prepare a detailed plan and present it for comment in advance of the 5th IAEG meeting. Until then, activists campaigning for Dalit rights, will continue to lobby the IAEG on the SDGs to ensure that those discriminated on the grounds of caste, work and decent are not excluded from the global development agendas for the next 15 years.