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Karuna has contributed to a new report just launched by a group of NGOs. The report has found that caste and other forms of “discrimination based on work and descent” (DWD) continues to be a barrier to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outlined by the UN in 2015. This form of discrimination occurs in at least 20 countries and is often associated with slavery.
Karuna was established in 1980 by members of Triratna and exists to end caste-based discrimination, poverty and inequality in India and Nepal. The charity aims to exemplify engaged buddhist practice, focusing on education, dignified livelihoods and gender equality, transforming communities and changing society. Many people within Triratna, particularly our Order in India, come from backgrounds that have been marked by caste-based discrimination. Karuna is proud to have collaborated with other leading NGOs to highlight this important issue within the development sector.
The report finds that caste in particular remains a significant cause of inequality in modern economies. It highlights how development and humanitarian responses often fail to recognise caste-based social exclusion and the vulnerabilities that result. This is especially prevalent during aid responses to disasters which may, if poorly designed, overlook or fail to meet the needs of the most marginalised caste groups.
The report calls for caste-sensitive approaches to achieve the SDG targets and is based on evidence from South Asian countries where caste-based disparities are strongly prevalent.
One of the main authors, Murali Shanmugavelan, writes “Caste remains a source for physical and sexual violence, poverty and hunger, exploitation, lack of access to drinking water and sanitation, social and economic inequalities and lack of opportunities in urban labour markets. This report shows why caste deserves the same level of policy attention as race, ethnicity and gender, especially when caste is bound with other identities and reinforces barriers and inequalities.”
Through a network of 40 partner organisations Karuna reaches approximately 75,000 people every year. Karuna is a Buddhist Team Based Right Livelihood, and if you are interested in their work or want to get involved visit their appeals website or get in touch with their London office +44 2077003434.