SDG Index: Assam Fails In Gender Equality Goals

The third edition of the SDG India Index and Dashboard 2020–21 was released by NITI Aayog a week ago, has been developed in collaborative efforts with the UNICEF.

The index is primarily used as a tool for monitoring the progress all states and Union Territories have made while striving to attain the sustainable development goals.

According to the Index report, India’s has made some headway with its score improving by six points overall- from 60 in 2019 to 66 in 2020-21.

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While, Kerala topped among the best performing states with a score of 75, Chandigarh scored 79 as a UT, and Bihar performed the worst out of the 36 states and union territories that participate to foster competitive and cooperative federalism among themselves.

Notably, Assam was the first among the states and UTs to adopt a state plan for SDGs — ‘Vision Assam 2030’ and set an example for others in terms of decentralised management of SDGs. However, in the third edition of the SDG India Index the state of Assam has performed poorly scoring 57 and ranked 26, making it the third worst performer in the Index.

However, the overall tally of the state has improved by two points this year. The composite score last year was 55.

Assam’s Performance

Out of the 16 SDGs, Assam fared well in Goal 7 – Affordable & Clean Energy (Score of 98), Goal 10 -Reduced Inequality (Score of 65), GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production (Score of 66), GOAL 15: Life on Land (Score of 78).

The state performed poorly in GOAL 2: Zero Hunger (Score of 41), GOAL 4: Quality Education (Score of 43), GOAL 5: Gender Equality (Score of 25), and Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (Score of 39).

The state has been a forerunner in the other goals as well scoring between 50 to 62.

As compared to the 2019 Index report, this year the state’s performance has sharply dipped in Goal 5: Gender Equality. Whereas, the score under this SDG was 33 in 2019, it has dropped to 25 in 2020.

Assam’s Performance In 2019 & 2020

The low score raises concerns in terms of gender equity, disparity, safety and access to all rights, but it is even more alarming as the state has scored the least under gender equality out of all states and union territories.

On the contrary while observing National Girl’s Child day this year, UNICEF Assam, was quoted in a media report, that “Assam is among the few states where gender inequity has not been a social crutch and we need to applaud the people and the government for promoting women-centric policies”.

However, the UN arm for promoting child welfare also said that, 30.8 per cent get married off before attaining adulthood in the state and a meagre 19 per cent women in the state join the workforce primarily in the unorganized sector.

As per the National Family Health Survey for 2019-2020, the sex ratio in Assam is in favour of women, with 1,012 women born per 1,000 men. The sex ratio was 993 women per 1,000 men in 2015-16.

Further, despite making steady developments in the industrial sector in the last five years, the SDG score under Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure have declined from 46 in 2019 to 39 in 2020.

On the other hand, the state has thrived well in under SDG Affordable and Clean Energy.  

Indicators and Assessment Criteria

The states and union territories’ progress can be tracked on 115 indicators aligned to the ministry of statistics and programme implementation’s National Indicator Framework (NIF).

The 115 indicators comprising 16 of the 17 SDGs, with a qualitative assessment on Goal 17 and cover 70 SDG targets. 

The SDG India Index computes goal-wise scores on the 16 SDGs for each State and Union Territory. Overall State and UT scores are generated from goal-wise scores to measure aggregate performance of the sub-national unit based on its performance across the 16 SDGs.

These scores range between 0–100, and if a State/UT achieves a score of 100, it signifies it has achieved the 2030 targets. The higher the score of a State/UT, the greater the distance to target achieved.

A perfect score of 100 is called an achiever, 65-99 are forerunners, 50-64 are performers, and 0-49 are aspirants.

In September 2015, the General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Building on the principle of “leaving no one behind”, the new Agenda emphasizes a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all.

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