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Leave No Woman Behind: lessons from Asia and the Middle East

This report is aimed at development practitioners and donors considering how to identify and address the needs of those most at risk of being left behind in the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Keeping in mind the principle underlying the SDGs to ‘Leave No One Behind’ and Christian Aid’s focus on Goal 5 to reduce gender inequality, it documents how Christian Aid’s programmes are reaching out to some of the most marginalised women – women who are affected by both gender and identity-based inequality and exclusion – and how our partners are putting conditions in place for their inclusion, empowerment and equality.  

Through this report, we are calling for much greater attention to socially marginalised groups, and particularly women among them, in actions towards attainment of the sustainable development goals. 

The elements of Christian Aid’s approaches to gender and inclusive programming are introduced, and intersectional analysis as a tool to support understanding of the barriers faced by women ‘at the crossroad’ of multiple axes of inequality are discussed. 

Case studies from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Philippines, Myanmar and Lebanon are introduced to illustrate how women experience different forms of marginalisation and discrimination that intersect and reinforce each other in different contexts, and how Christian Aid and its partners are approaching the specific needs and vulnerabilities that result, through measures to promote women’s inclusion, empowerment, dignity, protection and access to entitlements. These are divided into two sections, the first focusing on South Asia and specific issues of gender and caste identity, and the second focusing on gender and identity issues in humanitarian and conflict settings. Our focus is on our work with women who are marginalised and discriminated against, because of poverty and gender inequality on the one hand, and caste, ethnicity or migration status on the other.  

Our report also identifies some common challenges emerging in our work to include the most marginalised women, such as the lack of disaggregated data, shrinking space for women’s rights defenders and how violence and extreme inequalities are often structural and result from unjust political and social systems that are very difficult to change. Finally, we offer some recommendations for development practitioners, donors and policy makers, based on our learning from Christian Aid programmes in Asia and the Middle East.  

Overall, this report demonstrates the importance of narratives and context for understanding intersecting issues of inequality, and the need to expand approaches and analysis towards engaging with diverse communities. It challenges us to move beyond traditional approaches that often understand inequality through a single lens, and to develop a deeper understanding of multiple axes of inequality, political and social settings, and relationships to inform our work.  

    Leave No Woman Behind report

    Recommendations 

    Summary of recommendations for addressing gender- and identity-based inequalities: 

    1. Build knowledge, transform mindsets and shift social norms, particularly to address intersecting forms of discrimination.
    2. Incorporate analysis of gender, identity-based inequalities and power and conflict sensitivity at all points of development programme cycles.
    3. Promote inclusion and participation of marginalised women, and address root causes of their vulnerability in development, humanitarian response and peace building.
    4. Develop national plans, policies and legislation to better address intersecting issues faced by women and marginalised groups.
    5. Gather disaggregated data to make visible context-specific axes of inequality related to gender, identity and power.
    6. Collaborate to share expertise - no single agency has the capacity to address all the issues raised.
    7. Promote participation of marginalised women in mechanisms to ensure SDGs are delivered for all.
    8. Invest in marginalised women's leadership and capacity building for claiming human rights.
    9. Promote measures to prevent and address violence against marginalised women.
    10. Encourage a transformative agenda in the private sector.