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Covid-19 has been a big setback for SDGs' progress worldwide

There is an urgent necessity to review our strategies to ensure India achieves its Sustainable Development Goals by 2020, says Natasha Mudhar

Natasha Mudhar, Founder, The World We Want
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Natasha Mudhar, Founder, The World We Want

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The SDG India Index, developed by Niti Aayog, is intended to provide a holistic view of the country's social, economic, and environmental status and its States and UTs. The World We Want (WWW) is a purpose-driven global social impact enterprise working on some of the most critically important global projects aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). "Covid-19 has been a setback for SDG progress worldwide because governments had to move their focus away from the SDGs to deal with the pandemic," London-born Natasha Mudhar, Founder, The World We Want, tells Bizz Buzz in an exclusive interview. She has built a formidable career working with FTSE 100 companies

The World We Want has become the definitive first port of call for organizations committed to purpose ventures to extend their reach and voice in markets such as India. They include Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, India, the World Food Programme and WHO

India's SDG progress is being directly monitored and overseen by NITI Aayog and it has constructed the SDG India Index spanning 13 out of 17 SDGs. The index tracks the progress of all the States and UT on a set of 62 national indicators, measuring their progress on the outcomes of the interventions


How is gender discrimination in India in comparison to rest of the world

According to the LinkedIn Opportunity Index 2021, more women in India's workplaces have experienced gender inequalities in career development than in the APAC region. In India, more than four in five (85 per cent) working women claim to have missed out on a raise, promotion, or work offer because of their gender, compared to the APAC regional average of 60 per cent. The report also revealed that even though 66 per cent of people in India feel that gender equality has improved in the country compared to their parent's period, more than seven in trn working women and mothers felt that managing familial responsibilities often comes in the way of their career development.

Globally, girls have higher survival rates at birth and are more likely to be developmentally on track. In India, however, girls outnumber boys in the death toll. Girls in India are also more likely to drop out of school primarily due to pre-conceived expectations to prioritise housework responsibilities over schooling.

What are the measures being taken by the Government of India, and how far are they able to address these issues?

The Indian government acknowledges that the female populations' economic advancement is central to India's equitable economic growth and national agenda. India was one of the first countries to have legislated change to ensure that public companies have at least one female director as per the Companies Bill in 2013. This has been a significant step forward to help open the doors for a more progressive and inclusive workplace for women in corporate India.

In 2016, the Government of India had also inculcated change from various grassroots activities such as the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign, which aims to generate awareness and improve the efficiency of welfare services intended for girls in India, from declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR), women empowerment, removal of gender inequality to ensuring girls' education and their participation in the society.

What is your project, and how is it connected to India? How has it benefited the country?

I established The World We Want, a purpose-driven global social impact enterprise, to accelerate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) achievement by 2030 through positive action, strategic communications, and global connections. I was also the India Director for a major campaign to launch and popularise the SDGs to 1.3 billion people in India when they were announced in 2015.

Given the WWW's profile and proven expertise in the international development sector, it has become the definitive first port of call for organizations committed to purpose ventures to extend their reach and voice in markets such as India. They include Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, India, the World Food Programme, WHO, Reliance Entertainment for social impact cinematic ventures such as Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India.

I have always championed equal rights and not special rights and have always been passionate about unlocking the immense potential of a collaboration between the Global North and South to unleash innovation and achievement towards a fair world for all.

With India always holding a sweet spot, I purposely earmarked India as the perfect host for the inauguration of the SDGs Impact Summit, I incepted with the mission to convene international delegates, panellists, change-makers, activists, and influencers rallying to propel the momentum of the SDGs by 2030, the first such high-level initiative in India.

What has been your inspiration behind The World We Want?

My now 79-year-old grandmother's life story inspired me to establish The World We Want with the vision to address the inequalities that continue to exist in our world, especially among marginalised communities such as women. My mission is to do whatever I can in my capacity or collaborate with other individuals, communities, and organisations to ensure that we are the last generation to experience any form of inequality.

I've always known that my great-grandmother passed away in Punjab in the 1940s from tuberculosis, which in today's day and age is a curable disease. I learned that she was a teacher who taught young children in Punjab, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds. Her daughter, my grandmother, had to leave school at the age of 10 and get married at the age of 15 owing to various circumstances. I began to wonder, what if my great grandmother was alive beyond the time my grandmother was two? As somebody who placed so much value on equal opportunity and access to education, would she have allowed my grandmother to leave school at such a young age, or would she have empowered her to achieve her every aspiration in life?

What is India's SDG goal set by the UN, and what is the current status? What are the roadblocks?

India played a central role in the formulation of the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, and India's National Development Agenda is mirrored in the SDGs. The world can achieve the SDGs by 2030 only if India achieves its targets. Therefore, India is the most important country in the global equation and considering this prominence, India's SDG progress is being directly monitored and overseen by NITI Aayog, the Government of India's think tank. NITI Aayog has constructed the SDG India Index spanning 13 out of 17 SDGs (leaving out Goals 12, 13, 14, and 17). The index tracks the progress of all the States and Union Territories (UTs) on a set of 62 national indicators, measuring their progress on the outcomes of the interventions and schemes of the Government of India. The SDG India Index is intended to provide a holistic view of the country's social, economic, and environmental status and its States and UTs.

Covid-19 has been a setback for SDG progress worldwide because governments have had to move their focus away from the SDGs to deal with the pandemic. From hunger to gender equality, education to sustainability, progress has not only been derailed but reversed during Covid-19. We, therefore, need to urgently review and reassess our strategies to ensure we achieve the SDGs by 2030.

This inspired The World We Want to launch its Humanifesto: Act. Build. Change. Do. (ABCD), a four-pillared action blueprint designed to inspire shape-shifting strategies, daring innovations, and purpose-led dialogue to create 'The World We Want.' The Humanifesto will be WWW's central philosophy and core criteria reflected across its work, with the premise of renewing the momentum towards achieving the SDGs in less than a decade and counteracting lost global progress in 2020 due to Covid-19.

Kumud Das
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