Nirantar (India) calls for focus on marginalised women and girls for holistic, inclusive education

By Archana Dwivedi, Nirantar (India)

One of the unique features of the SDGs is that they are all interconnected and one can see the resonance of one SDG in many other relevant goals within it. However, when we talk of strategies and action points to achieve those goals, we are talking in silos.

We are here in APMED 5 discussing the SG 4.1 and 4.6 – to achieve inclusive and quality education for all and literacy for youth and adults. We know that unless we are addressing the issues of diversity, gender, disability, marginalisation, poverty, identity, and representation, education cannot claim to be inclusive. While all of these categories can be mutually exclusive, we must also be able to see them as intersecting and multiplying with each other to understand them in totality and reality. For example, gender is one axis of power that marginalizes women and girls, and ability is another axis of power that marginalizes disabled people. But women and girls who are disabled are more marginalised within the disabled community, which is further aggravated by poverty and their rural/urban location. Thus, marginalisation is experienced in a layered manner where disadvantages multiply.

If education programmes or interventions for disabled people do not address gender concerns, they may leave out the more marginalised women and girls within the disabled community. Our strategies and action plans need to adopt intersectional approaches that allow us to see the layered as well as crosscutting nature of these marginalisations. For example, if we have to work with ethnic minorities to ensure them access to quality education, we have to think of specific strategies to address gender-based concerns, in addition to the issues of language, disability, and their representation in the curriculum. But unfortunately, our programmes are still working on individual issues without looking at other intersecting aspects that are part of people’s lived realities. I would have really appreciated if APMED 5 could become that space where we could bring these inter-sectionalities to the fore and talk about them holistically.

Platforms like APMED can play an important and decisive role in providing focused attention to each goal while constantly working towards making inter-linkages among them and pushing for intersectional, intersectoral approach-based solutions.

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