On 30th May, 2013, the High Level Panel submitted its recommendations on the post-2015 development agenda to the UN Secretary General. The ‘Participate‘ initiative co-convened by the Institute of Development Studies and Beyond 2015, of which Praxis is a part, has responded to these recommendations with an in-depth participatory research report that brings together voices and experiences of the poor and the marginalised from over 30 countries
The Participate response has been comprehensive in attributing praise where its due. It has further clarified the need to strengthen the focus on the ‘how’ of implementation, the need to recognise that growth is not a solution for poverty and the necessity to move beyond just the voice to the appropriation of real power and accountability through participation.
It can include some of the following into its response:
1. “Development” often takes away development from marginalised. It is worse than the recognition that development is not reaching marginalised. Urban contexts of marginalisation can be a case in point.
2. Continued marginalisation of the discriminated is creating new stigmatised identities. Patriarchally predisposed values on sexual orientation, dignity and work participation makes the society critical of choices made by communities. This leads to the ‘othering’ of these people groups and results in further stigmatisation. This drives vulnerable communities to further risk while further taking away the agency from the marginalised.This is often seen in both Urban contexts of marginalisation where the structurally marginalise enter cities and become the urban poor and are unable to access rights, services and entitlements because of stigma associated totheir living habitation and social status. It can also be seen in people groups like the Sex workers and Trans Gender, whose choice of work or sexuality isviewed by the patriarchal society as being unacceptable. These results in exclusion and experiences of marginalisation and discrimination based on the stigma associated with their work participation or gender identity.
3. Governments are not addressing such mainstreamed socio-cultural norms that creates stereotypes which define stigma.
4. Governments are suspicious of collective action, which happen to be a significant space for such communities to understand and engage with their stigma and access their rights and entitlements.
5. Governments have adopted regressive policies that have taken democratic control away from people. This has created unaccountable partnerships, where development is led by vested interests such as corporates.
6. Sustainable development need not just be limited to one that looks at development from the climate change lens. It could also mean rights-based development that ensures quality participation and equitable governance rather than just the delivery of services.
In this context the Goals could include –
1. Pro poor Governance (rather than Good governance) for Inclusive and Equitable Development – Development is often the result of the contestation of interest groups. The research by Praxis and Participate show that there are groups that do not have power and get excluded in development processes. So recognising this, governments have to be proactive in including marginalised communities, stigmatised groups in every stage of the development. Governance and Development are not neutral processes. As practiced today, these favour the rich and powerful. The report recognise that 1.2 billion of the poorest consume just 1 per cent of the world resources while the richest 1 billion account for 72%. This has been a statistic that has only been regressing on the poor. This inequality in resource distribution necessitates action by the sate that acts on behalf of the poor to engender equity rather than just ensure good governance and effective institutions.
2. Addressing socio-cultural norms, such as patriarchy, that drive stigma and discrimination resulting in the marginalisation of people and groups such as women and sexual minorities.
3. Create spaces and resources for collective action by stigmatised and discriminated groups
4. Restructure and institutionalise democratic infrastructure that enables the participation of the poor and marginalised across policy and implementation. Identify legal provisions that have regressively taken away democratic control from people and wrested it in the hands of corporates and the powerful.
5. Create the needed infrastructure to equitably administer natural resources and distribute wealth and assets.