Intersectionality is the concept that there is no single instance of privilege or oppression, instead, many instances of privilege and oppression intersect in the lives of all people in a way that creates an individualized human experience. Continue reading
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were two strong efforts to increase development in all areas. While the SDGs are still in force, the MDGs have concluded, providing the valuable possibility of evaluating the opportunities provided by this framework, as well as its limitations. Continue reading
The rise of globalization and interconnectedness has had many implications for private and public society. In the beginning of the twentieth century, the concept of world governance emerged- a governance that was not done by one state but was done by all states working together. Instead of one nation controlling the others, this concept would mean that a power separate from the nations themselves would have the ultimate power. This concept eventually led to many regional and global organizations, the largest and arguably most powerful of which is the United Nations. While the UN is far from all-powerful, it represents a multistakeholder global governance: each member state has stake in the organization, as well as countless other groups and organizations. Continue reading
Education is possibly the most important contribution to the development of children. Education must be inclusive, not only in that it includes persons with disabilities and provides the frameworks needed to succeed, but also in that it allows for the education of all; teaching persons with and without disabilities the understanding and acceptance needed to create cultural changes that will make our society as a whole most inclusive.
Article 7 of the UNCRPD focuses on children disabilities and how children with disabilities have the right to enjoy the same freedoms as other children. An integral freedom of children with disabilities is the right to go to school and learn. Article 9, on accessibility, encourages the structural changes needed for children of all abilities to access not just the physical school but also the content learned. Article 30, on participation in recreation, includes the social and extracurricular activities offered in many schools, which should be accessible to all students. Though there are many articles from the CRPD that could be applied in a context that would increase inclusion in education, Article 24, on education itself, is the most comprehensive. This article covers everything from Braille and sign language to individualized support to maximize academic and social development.
According to a 2011 World Bank report, there are between 93 and 150 million school-aged children with disabilities globally. Inclusive education ensures that these children are not excluded from educational opportunities and that they reach the same level of education as those without disabilities. UNESCO, along with the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ICT), joined together to promote ways to implement the UNCRPD.
UNESCO worked together with G3ICT because information technology is an important way for schools to increase their inclusivity. At the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS), it was suggested that these ICTs could increase inclusion. These ICTs could have assistive technology, encourage personalized learning, have self-accommodation that could increase independence, and other important technologies. Screen readers, alternative keyboards, and alternative communication devices are just a few examples of amazing technologies that could be used to increase the accessibility of education for all. With information technology available, more people than ever will be able to access quality education and move further on the road to achieving their dreams.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was a global framework of development goals that produced “the most successful anti-poverty movement in history.” and served as a basis for the development of the SDGs (Millenium Development Goals). To illustrate the successes that the MDGs produced, the United Nations released a report after the framework’s fifteen year timeframe was complete. For example, the percentage of the global population in developing regions that lived on less than $1.25 per day decreased from nearly 50 percent to a total of 14 percent, within the framework’s timespan from 1990 – 2015 (Millenium Development Goals). In addition, the global population of people who are undernourished in developing regions decreased by 50 percent (Millenium Development Goals).
While the MDGs were an excellent launching point for global strategic development frameworks, the SDGs offer a broader range and higher number of topics. While there are many similarities between the MDGs and the SDGs, such as eradicating poverty and ending world hunger, the SDGs particularly expand upon the theme of environmental sustainability. While the MDGs only had one goal specifically dedicated to sustainability, the SDGs have multiple goals focused on water resources, consumption and production patterns, and sustainable oceans and cities. In addition, the SDGs have more of a focus on inclusivity and accessibility than the MDGs. The SDGs mention the word “inclusive” six times and “for all” another six times in the titles of the goals alone, and the SDGs additionally have more references to persons with disabilities than the MDGs.
Global strategic frameworks such as the MDGs and SDGs are important because they provide a cohesive set of goals that can be adopted and implemented around the world. These frameworks also have concrete vision that provides clarity when working with big-picture, abstract ideas. It is also beneficial that the frameworks provide timelines, which adds both a sense of urgency and a reference point to measure successes. Some of the possible limitations of these frameworks are that the number and expansiveness of the goals could potentially be overwhelming, as they address issues in multiple levels of society and each have a relatively broad focus. In addition, countries could have reservations as to which goals they want to follow, and not work towards every goal. However, despite the potential limitations, global strategic frameworks are a key institution in facilitating international collaboration. These frameworks are particularly important for issues such as sustainable development, that impact every corner of the world. When the SDG framework timeline ends in 2030 and a new set of United Nations development goals are released, the new set of goals would ideally follow the trend that the SDGs took after the MDGs and continue to become even more inclusive in the future.
Yesterday during class, we discussed intersectionality within the context of international development, specifically in regards to the identities of individuals or groups of people and its implication on policy making.
Moving Forward in Inclusive, Sustainable Development
The simple fact is that the world’s global, grand challenges cannot be solved overnight. As a result, maintaining inclusive, sustainable development is truly a process that can be accomplished to varying degrees in the short-time, medium-term, and long-term. For many, this process is codified in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the infamous set of 17 goals that will carry the international development community into the year 2030. With (almost) the first five years of the SDG-era behind the world, where does international development stand and what can the world look forward to, both leading up to and beyond 2030? Continue reading
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a diversity and inclusion training focused on the theory of Intersectionality. This particular theory of identity was one that moved to the forefront in studying identity, as it conceptually makes the most sense to me. I often envision identity as a set of moving plates that shift, rotate, and replace one another within a given context. For example, my identity as a woman shifts to the forefront in my male-dominated workplace. However, that same identity transitions into the background as my identity age is brought forward in the context of my five-year master’s program.
This blog post discusses the importance, and often lacking presence, of intersectionality in development policy.
Intersectionalities are incredibly important in all areas of study, particularly studying disability and when planning to create disability policy. Intersectionality is studying the crossing of different (often marginalized) social identities. Intersectionality can be visualized as a Venn diagram, with each identity being a big circle and the complete identity of a person being the place where all these individual identities meet. It is important to view topics with an intersectional lens as various forms of social categories are never seen in a vacuum, but are interwoven together. Focusing on just one identity when trying to solve or better an issue neglects the numerous other factors that add to disenfranchisement and impede progress. However, despite the innate nature and undoubted importance of intersectionality, intersectionality is overlooked in the creation of policy, particularly international policy.
Looking at the Major Groups Framework, for example, there are nine major groups: women, children, farmers, indigenous people, local authorities, businesses, civil society, and worker and trade unions. While the intentions of the nine major groups were well-intentioned, created in order to represent the key actors sectors of society, distinguishing 9 specific groups allows little room for multiple identities. Additionally, it creates an atmosphere where an individual who may prescribe to many of these identities may have to separate their complex identity and prescribe to just one in order to have representation . By ignoring intersectionality, it completely nullifies the idea of inclusive sustainable development. Inclusive for one group, may not be inclusive for another. One reason why intersectionality is sometimes overlooked in international policy is that often global strategic frameworks must create targets, goals and evaluative methods for such large and complex issues that less prevalent identities get forgotten.
However, there are examples of international frameworks that focus on intersectionality, particularly the Sendai Framework. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction focused on 4 priorities for action and 7 global targets . The Sendai Framework was complex in the sense that it did not simply focus on the homogenous group but delved into specific plans to aid niche groups and vulnerable communities.
It is important that intersectionality is not a topic that is discussed after the fact and then added into to programs or policies. Intersectionality is an innate part of each person’s identity and should be taken into account constantly during the creation of policies and frameworks to ensure addressing all challenges are met between various stakeholder groups.
Intersectionality refers to how marginalized identities overlap and interact with one another. It creates an understanding of how intersections of these identities create challenges for those people who experience them. In class we discussed that recognizing that intersectionality exists and is real has an important impact on inclusive sustainable development. Recognizing that these intersectionalities exist make them and the people that experience them more visible which is integral to inclusivity. It also has the potential to, and should, inform policies and strategies related to the Sustainable Development Agenda so that they are taking into account and including intersectionality.
The United Nations Major Groups Framework is something that I discussed in my blog post about the High Level Political Forum (HLPF). I mentioned how this framework which informs the Major Groups and Other Stakeholders High Level Political Forum Coordination Mechanism is a positive thing because members of disadvantaged groups such as women and indigenous peoples are given a voice in the HLPF. However, it is important to note that the Major Groups Framework is not perfect, and while it does have the intention of giving a voice to disadvantaged groups, there is still work that needs to be done especially as intersectionality is concerned. For example, women are a group that are marginalized, and it is important for them to be included in the conversation on sustainable development. However, women with disabilities are grouped into this category and there is therefore not enough visibility given to them because the focus is on women’s issues in general.
As we discussed in class this week, the Major Groups Framework is not sufficient in addressing intersectionalities that exist amongst people who hold multiple marginalized identities. Therefore, there should be a strategy to get the major groups framework to take on intersectionality. The argument that there should be a separate coalition to address intersectionality is a strong one, and I believe that this is an essential step to giving intersectionality the attention it deserves. This goes back to the discussion we had in our first class about Grand Challenges- the grand challenge of disability and development cannot be overcome without collaboration and inclusion of all.