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The Caste Freedom Index

Date/Time: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 / 12:30 - 2:00 p.m.

Speaker: Don Zimmerman, Ph.D., Vice Chair, International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR) and Professor and Director, the Graduate School, University of Maryland University College, Adelphi MD

Chair: Dr. Dambar K (DK) Gurung, Treasurer and founding Member, ICDR, and Applied Economist

Location/On-line Attendance:
Both in-person and on-line options are available. To sign up for either, click the event link

In-person attendees should go to:
Offices of Mathematica-MPR, 1101 First Street NE, 12th Floor, Washington DC 20002, near L Street, north of Union Station
Click here for directions to Mathematica

Sponsors: WSS Human Rights Statistics Program, DC-AAPOR, and the Capital Area Social Psychological Association

Caste-based systems are defined by the stratification of individuals based on social status at birth. There are over 260 million people in South Asia that are currently defined at the bottom of the caste-structure. Named “Dalits,” these people are excluded from civil, political, and economic opportunities, openly and latently discriminated against, and routinely faced with imminent torture, death, rape, assault, human trafficking, and untouchability.

At present, there is no single instrument to measure and monitor caste-based discrimination or caste and gender-based violence at the local, national, and global level. We believe that creating a standardized measurement and advocacy framework will provide a clear and present benchmark for determining the current status of discrimination and, as importantly, future progress towards a positive social impact.

To assess (and address) issues related to cate-based systems, in late 2013, leaders of the International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR) along with experts from Statistics without Borders (SWB) of the American Statistical Association, began work on a Caste Freedom Index (CFI).

The CFI is a unique statistical tool to evaluate the relative exclusion/inclusion of Dalits from civil, economic, and political structures associated with caste- based systems. The preliminary structure of the instrument is based upon a 6x5 matrix designed to represent six human rights domains across five social-political dimensions. Current domains consist of: (1) Constitutional and Legal Principles, (2) Political and Social Actions, (3) Economic Activity, Community relations, and (4) Individual and Family Experience. Dimensions consist of: (1) Life, health, and Shelter; (2) Family life, privacy and personal dignity; (3) Employment, fair pay, economic opportunity; (4) Freedom of expression, freedom of movement; (5) Political representation; and (6) Access to justice, protection from crime. Complete development of the CFI is occurring over four stages with an initial feasibility stage recently concluded in Nepal this last Fall.

At present, work continues on several key methodological issues that will further define the CFI’s final form. These areas of inquiry include the sampling strategy, data reliability and validity issues, and the integration of the tool into multi-level policy making processes, among others.

For further information contact Michael P. Cohen, 202-403-6453.

A remote viewing option may be available; please wait for updates to this announcement. To attend in person, Mathematica is located at 1100 1st Street, NE, 12th Floor, Washington, DC 20002. If traveling by Metro, take the Red Line to either the New York Ave Station or Union Station. From the New York Ave Station, follow signs to exit at M Street out of the station and walk 1 block west on M street and 2 blocks south on 1st Street (the building will be on your right). From Union Station, walk north along 1st Street for about 4-5 blocks until you reach L Street (the building will be on your left after crossing L street). If traveling by car, pay parking is available in the building parking garage, which is located 1 block east of North Capitol on L Street NE. Once in the building, take the elevators to the 12th floor and inform the secretary that you are attending the WSS seminar. Please call Mathematica's main office number (202 484-9220) if you have trouble finding the building.