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India's 88% policymakers "don't know" women's early marriage rate, 77% maternal mortality rate, 38% UN's SDGs

By Rajiv Shah
That Indian policy makers have had little or no empathy for the social sector and they are more concerned about business interests is widely known. However, a top international survey of five nations has provided convincing data showing that 38% of India's policy makers have little or no knowledge of even the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. The report says, as many as 15% of Indian policy makers have no knowledge of SDGs, which is the highest among the five nations surveyed. Further, 23% said have "not much" knowledge about SDGs.
The report regrets, "The highest proportion of policymakers with not much or no knowledge of the SDGs was found in India (38%)."
The survey report, "Equal Measures 2030", prepared jointly by global civil society and private sector organizations, says that in Kenya 65% of policymakers reported knowing “a great deal” about the SDGs, compared to 29% in Senegal, Colombia (20%), and India (27%). Another 35% of Indian policy makers said they had "fair amount" of knowledge of SDGs.
On September 25th 2015, the UN general assembly adopted  a set of 17 goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.
Apart from SDGs, the survey sought answers questions related to how do policymakers perceive progress on gender equality in their countries, what needs to change in order to improve gender equality, what data and evidence do they rely on to make their decisions, and how confident are they in their understanding of the major challenges affecting girls and women in their countries.
The policymakers surveyed, both by telephonic and face-to-face interviews, are members of central government, members of parliament; representatives of local- or state-level administration and representative bodies; senior civil servants; and ‘key influencers’, e.g., executives of independent statutory bodies, such as human rights commissions, heads of business associations, media associations, trade unions.
Those who sponsored the report include Kuala Lumpur-bases Asia-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women;
Data2X, a technical and advocacy platform, housed at the United Nations Foundation; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; International Women’s Health Coalition; and top private consultant KPMG International.
Suggesting that Indian policymakers, like those in other countries, are not even aware of basic data on gender issues, the report finds that their estimates of the percentage of women in the labour force ranged from 20% to 70%, while "the most recently available data says 27%", which is the worst among the five countries.
Pointing out that there is poor understanding of gender-related data among policymakers of the five countries, the report finds, just 12% of Indian policymakers admitted that they know of the latest figure of early marriage rate of women, while a whopping 69% said they don’t recall but know where this information is, and 19% said they don’t even know where this information.
As for the share of women in labour force, 19% claimed they know this, 69% said they don’t recall but know where this information is, and 12% said they don’t know about it nor do they where this information is.
Coming to the seats held by women in Parliament, 35% said they know this, while 65% said they don’t recall but know where this information is. And, on maternal mortality rate, 23% said they know this, 65% said don’t recall but know where this information is, and 12% said they don’t know and don’t know where this information is.

Comments

Arundeep Chaudhry said…
A very well studied and educative article on the poor knowledge of a few policymakers. Is this not due to the rise of unqualified over the meitorious owing to the quota system ? I wish we had better qualified policymakers for a better future of a better India.

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