India is a signatory to the declaration of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It has been implementing MDG oriented programmes to address the multi-dimensional developmental needs of the people for last 10 years. With just 5 years left to achieve the targets, the country is poised correctly to assess, reflect and review the status of MDGs in the country.
While the data compiled by the Government through its various Ministries looks quite promising, a wide cross section of civil society and women’s organizations point towards the gaps between the figures on the papers and the ground realities. The foremost criticism of MDG oriented activities is that it has become an exercise of quantitative targets divorced from the realities of qualitative improvements in life.
The reality check can only be performed by assessing the qualitative improvements in the standard of living of the most marginalized groups. Women in this country form a dominant fraction of vulnerable groups, therefore they are in the right position to give the verdict on how the MDG oriented programmes have improve the quality of their lives. While the progress is visible on fronts such as legal safeguards and local level political representation, these gains have not narrowed the parity gap.
The recognition in the 11th plan that women indeed comprise a diverse range of marginalized groups, has so far not resulted in comprehensive programmes for reduction of disparities. The Ministry of Women & Child Development not only failed to undertake vulnerability mapping of the diversely spread marginalized women, but it also failed to quantify sizes of various sub groups and come up with programmes to benefit the most excluded sections among women.