As women go, so go the Millenium Development Goals
Change.org, Victor Roy
September 7, 2010
I'm glad the data has backed up this fact in recent years. Indeed, investments in women are the key behind progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They are the bedrock for families, children, local economies, and entire societies.
Yet for people working on these issues for many years, this data is no surprise. What’s more shocking continues to be the lack of progress on MDG 3 - “promote gender equality and women’s empowerment”. In each of the key targets for this MDG - levels of girls’ education (particularly compared to boys), the share of women working in the non-agricultural sector, and the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments - progress has fallen short. Today, 75% of HIV-infected youth in Africa are girls, 70% of the world’s out-of-school youth are girls, and pregnancy is the leading cause of death among girls aged 15-19. While I won’t go into details on all the indicators and targets in this post (you can read more about the targets at an official UN site), I wanted to focus on some promising momentum and highlight two important questions.
On a global policy level, recent years have seen MDG 3 (and relatedly, MDG 5 on women’s health) come to the center of development discussions in an unprecedented way. The Obama Global Health Initiative, for example, explicitly states a “women and girl-centered” approach to their implementation and strategy. Secretary of State Clinton has championed this in her public commentary on the Initiative. Over the past few months, several major meetings have focused on women, including the recent G8 conference in Toronto and Women Deliver in Washington D.C.
Alongside this policy focus, the “Girl Effect” marketing campaign has raised the visibility of investing in adolescent girls as a specific strategy towards advancing gender equity. The years between childhood and adulthood for girls are often shaped by domestic violence, early marriage and pregnancy, an absence of education, and a lack of access to health information or care. Sharpening our focus on these years can yield major impact for women around the world.
But will this momentum in policy and marketing translate to real change for women and girls across the world? At least two inflection points to look for in the coming years -
As the UN MDG Summit convenes later this month, let’s hope these discussions are at the center of the agenda, much as women are at the heart of any family, community, society, and strategy for equitable global development.
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