South Asian Perspectives on Sustainable Development and Gender Equality

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer a comprehensive integrated framework to address gender inequality in South Asia. The idea for this study – exploring the intersectionality of SDG 5 with other goals – emerged in the Regional Steering Group Meeting of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) – South Asia in 2019. Having left debates on monitoring frameworks behind them, most member states focus on documenting progress on SDGs. However, civil society and academia play an important part in critically analysing the indicators developed nationally and the prioritisation in policy agenda. SDG 5 on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls has been recognised as a necessary foundation for a peaceful and sustainable world. Since the SDG framework was adopted, almost all South Asian countries have lagged in achieving Goal 5 and the attendant nine targets.

Due to the unavailability of authors from GPPAC South Asia on Maldives and Bhutan, this publication focuses on the SDG 5+ progress in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The purpose of this publication is to provide opportunities for civil society actors to link up with other stakeholders to communicate, exchange ideas and jointly develop knowledge on the progress being made on gender equality in the South Asian region. It seeks to enhance civil society capacity to identify gaps between the state’s international commitments and national level policies on gender equality. In turn, this knowledge could be used to draw public attention towards relevant and strategic policy changes as well as strengthen the voice of women’s groups. This work serves to inform the peacebuilding and developmental community of the status and progress of Goal 5 in South Asia. More importantly, it aims to establish context-specific interconnectedness between Goal 5 and other goals; and offer concrete recommendations to relevant actors on how to adopt a comprehensive implementation plan moving away from working in silos.

This study, the first of its kind in South Asia, was undertaken at the most challenging times during COVID-19. The authors of this study include – Ms Lailuma Nasiri, Afghanistan Justice Organisation, Mr Ashish Banik, Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, Dr Mallika Joseph, WISCOMP, Ms Surabhi Singh, DidiBahini Nepal, Dr Arshi Hashmi Saleem, National Defence University, Pakistan, and Amb Swarna Sumanasekara, Association of War Affected Women, Sri Lanka.