Sustainable Development Goals 2030: A challenge or an opportunity?

Avantika Chaturvedi, CNS Correspondent, India
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights underpin every aspect of sustainable development and economic growth and cut across the three dimensions of economic, social and environmental development. Member countries to the UN adopted the Global goals for sustainable development in September, 2015. These goals aim to play a crucial role for the upliftment of the underserved populations.

In an interview given to CNS, Mr. Arif Jafar, Managing Director of Balarc Foundation, said that the issues of general population are no different from those of the marginalized population. There is huge gender inequality even as the LGBT community challenges the hetro normative structure of the society as well as the social definition of gender. So we need to achieve gender equality in the marginalised population not only in terms of equal opportunities for education and jobs but also in terms of personal identity. Once we recognize gender beyond the two so called normative identities (male and female) then these goals can be achieved for these populations. If this is achieved by 2030 it will definitely help the hidden population to come forward. The LGBT community is treated as a minuscule minority and so their rights are just not taken into account.

He said that for accessing sexual and reproductive health services the marginalised populations first need to have recognition. He lamented that the Human Rights seat at the UN is chaired by Saudi Arabia which is one of the worst human rights violators. So how can we expect to achieve human rights because according to Saudi laws, homosexuality is punishable by death. United Nations has to change its structure and the seat needs to be given to a country that has been working for human rights and recognises gender fluidity. He felt that the Uttar Pradesh government is quite proactive on this issue and not averse to a dialogue around it.

He said that even though the government is giving free health facilities, but the ground reality is very different. There still are a whole lot of people who do not have enough information about  how and where to access the free health care services. This especially true of rural areas where dalits and other marginalised communities are generally seen and treated as deviants, as LGBT behavior is seen deviant by the general population. They do not have access to even basic hygiene and cleanliness in their day to day life is a big issue for them, let alone health services.

Naresh Yadav, Leader UPNP+ (Uttar Pradesh Network of Positive People) had said during a media meet organized by FPA India and CNS on SRHR and SDGs that stigma for PLHIV is the biggest barrier- self stigma and outside stigma. Stigma in HIV positive female sex workers, transgenders, and MSMs is much more than in PHLIV in general population. It is very important to address this stigma. There should be close integration between SRH and HIV related programmes in the state. Work has to be done at grassroots and ground level to achieve the targets. Information system should be fast enough to reach people at the ground level, so that they are always updated and well informed about their rights. He felt that if stigma is removed then perhaps we can achieve the SDGs.

The talk with Mr. Arif Jafar definitely tells that it will not be an easy task for the accomplishment where United Nation goals are concerned in India because we need to sensitize the general population and reduce the social inequality so that the marginalized population can join main stream society and they can access the services and contribute in the fulfillment of United Nation goals. Naresh Yadav’s quotes also indicates that we need to have a strong social structure, connectivity, acceptance, working and monitoring at the grass root level for the accomplishment of SDGs.

So accomplishing the SDGs by 2030 will indeed be an uphill task for India. A lot of work will have to be done to sensitize the general population and reduce the social inequality, so that the marginalized populations can join main stream society and access the available health services. A strong social structure, connectivity, acceptance, and monitoring at the grass roots level will go a long way in the accomplishment of the global goals.

Avantika Chaturvedi, Citizen News Service - CNS
February 2, 2016