Children in school
Dalit girls face the double discrimination of gender and caste. Karuna's work in village schools supports girls to stay in school by forming girls’ groups and engaging teachers and parents. Amy Edwards, Karuna

Caste and development

Tackling work and descent-based discrimination to achieve the SDGs for all

21 March 2019Bond Caste and Development group







Discrimination based on work and descent (DWD), which includes caste, derives from social hierarchies that enact a distinct set of human rights violations against diverse groups of people, based on their ancestry and the work they do.

These systems have changed over time, but they persist and pervade many aspects of life in affected countries. They contribute to multiple inequalities and barriers to inclusive development, yet they have received limited recognition among development practitioners and the global community and its institutions.

This report by the Bond Caste and Development Group informs policy makers, civil society organisations and governments and invites them to critically engage with the issue of caste and its implications for sustainable development. It argues that a focus on DWD and caste is vital in order for the development community to achieve development goals and human rights.

With a view to the 2019 regional and global forums on the SDGs, the report examines some of the barriers caste presents to the achievement of selected SDG targets and proposes a “caste-sensitive” approach to sustainable development.

The report looks at caste-based disparities across several SDG being reviewed:

  • SDG 4 (education)
  • SDG 8 (decent work)
  • SDG 10 (inequalities)
  • SDG 16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions)

In the report, the group suggest that governments act on all available evidence to protect the rights of Dalits and other excluded groups, end caste discrimination and remove other caste-specific barriers. We also set out recommendations for donors and NGOs working in caste-affected countries, including that they:

  • Ensure staff are more representative of diverse communities including Dalits
  • Support Dalit advocacy platforms
  • Collect caste-disaggregated data and advocate for collection of caste-disaggregated data by statutory agencies
  • Adopt caste-sensitive approaches in context-analysis and planning

Download Report