It’s well established that women and girls, more than 50% of the global population, face systemic discrimination.
But did you know that 250 million people experience discrimination because of inherited status like their faith or ethnicity? Or that 75% of stateless people around the world belong to minority groups? And indigenous women are six times more likely to die during childbirth?
These sobering statistics have a common cause: global shortages of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – or DEI. The concept is simple, we should all be celebrating people’s differences, instead discriminating against them because of who they are. If only that was the rule and not the exception. Thankfully DEI is becoming a critical conversation, in Canada and around the world, but the challenge ahead of us continues to be significant.
For many of the most marginalized people around the world, the devastating effects of discrimination are multiplied. Entire communities often face different forms of discrimination all at the same time. The same individual, for example, can face an intersectionality of discrimination due to their gender, race, ethnicity, and age all at once, just to name a few. This puts their lives and their futures at serious vulnerability and risk.
The solution is to ensure that DEI becomes a constant lens by which we must focus in order to function effectively as a global community. It must intersect everything from the private to the public sector. Including in my own work leading a development, humanitarian and advocacy organization like Children Believe. It’s a critical component for empowering children and youth, especially girls, to dream fearlessly. To stand up for what they believe in, for what is right. And to be heard.
While the problem of discrimination remains immense, it’s effects can be undone. Together, and I would emphasise an “only together” approach can overcome discrimination in all its forms.
The Government of Canada has recognized this by focusing its humanitarian and development approaches on gender equality and empowerment through its Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP). Global Affairs Canada promotes Gender-Based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) which puts emphasis on intersectionality to address gender inequalities in its policies and programs. This represents a committed belief in an approach that can help eradicate poverty and build a more peaceful, more inclusive and more prosperous world.
Catalyzing transformative action
This is our belief as an implementer. Children Believe is now taking its programmatic approach to the next level. We are proud to introduce the launch of Catalyzing Transformative Action – A Toolkit on Gender, Intersectionality and Social Inclusion.
Led by Children Believe’s Centre of Excellence on Gender and Social Inclusion in India, our open access toolkit has been developed and pilot tested in three global contexts: India, Ghana and Nicaragua.
Through this toolkit we fully acknowledge the connection between multiple discriminations. And it enables us to design and implement programs that will make us far more effective throughout the life cycle of development initiatives. Additionally, this process requires that all of our ongoing research, monitoring and evaluation and influence are conducted through this lens.
We will share knowledge. But just as importantly-and maybe more importantly, as true partners, we will listen to those with local, lived experience to guide us in program design as we work towards ending the stigmatization from discrimination.
We will also look at innovative partnerships and solutions within and between countries. So that we can not only sustain, but also scale up solutions that are finding success.
This is where both child protection and gender equality go hand in hand together, both inside and outside the classroom. To ensure access to an education that will be a powerful tool for all children, and youth to change the world, no matter who they are or where they come from.
Together, we will help build a world where every person, regardless of gender, race or any other identity has the opportunity to flourish. We can close the discrimination gap and ensure quality education and life opportunities for everyone.