Does being a Dalit woman deny her of basic healthcare facilities in the country? Yes, going by the latest report by the United Nations. As per the report, “Turning promises into action: gender equality in the 2030 Agenda”, the average death for Dalit women is 14.6 years younger than her upper caste counterparts. Citing information from a report from the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies in 2013, the report states that a woman’s caste in India can decide her exposure to basic amenities and can increase her exposure to mortality for a variety of reasons including health care, inadequate water supply and poor sanitation. The UN report, which comes two-and-half years after the adoption of the 2030 agenda and covers 89 countries, examines the challenges and progress in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals.
As per the report, while the average age for the death of higher caste women was 54.1 years, the same age for Dalit women was 39.5 years. Focussing on the plight of Dalit women in the country, the report says that a gap of 5.48 years remains in the average death age of upper caste and Dalit women.
The report further states that the compounding effect of wealth and location also produces large inequalities in India. For example, a 20-24-year-old young woman from a poor family is likely to get married before the age of 18 as compared to a woman from the higher caste. The report added that lower caste women not attending school is 21.8 times than that of the upper caste women. The likelihood of being poor also depends on whether the woman come from a landless family or belongs to scheduled caste. Hence, her social status and education level prove whether her work for pay is under exploitative working conditions or not.
Covering issues of women from 89 countries, the report says that women and girls constitute 330 million of the poor population in the world. It also states that half of the urban women and girls in developing countries lack the access to basic amenities like sanitation, clean water, and sufficient living area.