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The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a set of objectives that provide a framework commonly agreed upon by United Nations member states towards the betterment of the international community. In the year 2000, the United Nations adopted the Millennium Development Goals, in which the 193 United Nation member states and 23 international organizations signed off of on working to achieve specific goals, targeting issues to further the development of the social and economic well-being of people across the world. There are eight goals in total and each focuses on an important global issue and their effects that can be felt across the globe.
The first Millennium Development Goal is to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty. The combined efforts of member states within the United Nations have led to a significant decrease in extreme poverty. According to the World Bank more than half of the developing world lived on less than $1.25 a day in 1981. This figure has sharply decreased as of 2010, when the statistic decreased to 21%. However, in 2010 alone there were still 1.2 billion people living in poverty. Therefore, the international community still has many strides to take towards fulfilling the first millennium goal.
The second Millennium Development Goal focuses on achieving universal primary education. This particular goal entails the insurance that all boys and girls will complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015. Another aspect of this goal is the promotion of the concept that educating girls will advance development for all. There has been great success in the quest to reach this particular MDG as the percentage of enrollment in primary education in developing regions has increased from 82% in 1999 to 90% by 2010. However, there is still work to be done as currently 123 million youth, ages 15 -24, lack basic reading and writing skills around the globe.
The third Millennium Development Goal seeks to promote gender equality and empower women. Since 1990 there has been great improvement in gender equality. According to the United Nations, on a global scale women are moving out of the agricultural sector and into the non-agricultural sector as they hold 40 out of every 100 wage earning jobs in the non-agricultural sector. This increase is significant, yet there is still much to do in order to eliminate gender disparity at all levels of education and empower women across the globe, as only 2 out of 130 countries have the goal at all levels of education.
The fourth Millennium Development Goal focuses on the reduction of child morality and seeks to reduce the under-five morality rate by two thirds between 1990 and 2015. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 13 children under the age of five die each minute of everyday mainly from preventable causes. However, there has been hope for this MDG as the under-five morality rate has declined from 12.4 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012. Also the utilization of measles vaccines since 2000 has prevented 10 million deaths.
The fifth Millennium Development Goal aims to improve maternal health by reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters and achieve universal access to reproductive health. The efforts of UN member states have decreased the maternal mortality ratio by 47% since 1990. States cannot rest on this success as nearly 50 million babies are delivered worldwide without skilled care and the maternal morality ratio in developing regions is 15 times higher than that of developed regions.
The sixth Millennium Development Goal seeks to combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other disease by halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS by 2015, achieving universal access to HIV treatment by 2010 for those who need it, and halting and beginning to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases by 2015. According to the UN, new HIV infections continue to decline in most regions. However, the goal of universal access to treatment was missed by 2011. A positive aspect of this particular MDG is that the fight against malaria has seen great success as the global estimated instance of malaria has decreased by 17% and malaria specific morality rates have decreased by 25% as reported by the UN.
The Millennium Development Goal is centered towards ensuring environmental stability. There have been many successes towards reaching this MDG such as the reduction of over 98% in the consumption of ozone depleting substances since the adoption of the Montreal protocol. But countries are still struggling with combining their efforts to create a comprehensive treaty that focuses on a key factor affecting the environment, global climate change, as can be seen from the increase in emissions of carbon dioxide by over 46 percent since 1990, as reported by the UN.
The eight and final Millennium Development Goal is geared towards the creation of a global partnership for development. This particular goal focuses on the following points:
- Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system
- Address the special needs of least developed countries
- Address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing States
- Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries
- In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries
- In cooperation with the private sector, make available benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications
The eighth Millennium Development Goal has proven to be an intricate and difficult process with states taking small steps towards fulfilling the requirements of the goal due to issues that conflict with their own interest.
With 2015 approaching, Secretary General Bank Ki Moon, and the United Nations continue to push to achieve some of the mandated targets that still call for action. This year, 2014, is the call to action to focus on the Issues that still need attention, focusing on world hunger, with one in eight people still suffering from world hunger. A demand for more medical attention is needed for women and children, as maternal mortality and child mortality still remaining high. This is certainly something that deserves more focus, as the advancements in science and technology have made the medicine available to potentially save these lives. Furthermore, sustainable development and sanitation infrastructure also need more attention, as our finite resource base continues to decline, while 2.5 billion people still lack proper sanitation resources, also posing a major hazard to both public health and the ecosystem.
Furthermore, while it may not be indubitable that all eight target goals will be met in 2015, it will certainly provide for an opportunity to refocus the priorities of the Millennium Summit, and ensure the post-2015 Goals are not only built off the base of the first set of Millennium Development Goals, but accomplished with higher efficiency, to provide for a more balanced rate of progress across all Global Issues. With Post-2015 bringing in a new set of goals, the issues placed at the forefront of the agenda will focus on sustainable development and will heavily involve the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in its implementation process.
The Millennium Development Goals have given States the opportunity to work together in order to create a brighter future for all of mankind. Although some objectives within the mandates may not be achieved by 2015, the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals have lead to a breakthrough in moving in the right direction towards solving the global issues through a more unified approach, bringing issues such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic, poverty, world hunger, and environmental pollution to the attention of people all around the world.
On Tuesday, January 28th, the Women’s Forum held the first of many exciting events of 2014! Attendees gathered at the home of a Women’s Forum Steering Committee member to learn more about Women’s Forum, hear from current members, network, win prizes, and enjoy mouth-watering international cuisine! The night also included a screening of the maternal mortality segment of the film “Half the Sky” followed by a lively and inspirational discussion of this vital women’s issue.
“Half the Sky” is a documentary by Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WyDunn based on the best-selling book, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The film and book focus on central issues that women and girls face in communities around the world.
One area that the maternal health segment focuses on is female genital mutilation in Somaliland and the health implications of such practices. The film addresses the cultural practice as well as the economic necessity for women cutters whose livelihood and survival depends on the tradition. Attendees of the event questioned what it would take to end the practice, as it was mentioned that Westerners telling a community such as the one in Somalia that it needs to end a long-standing tradition is ineffective. Many attendees agreed that education, as was mentioned in the film, plays an important role in establishing lasting and sustainable change.
The film presented one example of education and sustainable change through Edna Adan Ismail. Edna’s passion for the women of Somaliland led her to establish a maternal hospital whose mission is to not only to care for women giving birth and train midwives and health professionals, but to train peers to educate the current and next generation of mothers and fathers on female genital mutilation.
The Women’s Forum chose this segment of the film to screen, as maternal mortality is a pervasive issue that is not getting the attention and resources it deserves. As a UN Millennium Development Goal, nations have only achieved a 47% (2010) decrease in maternal mortality rates since 1990, far from the original goal of 75% by 2015. The screening was intended to start a dialogue on what we can do as individuals and as a collective whole to continue to raise awareness and create solutions to maternal mortality and other preventable health issues women face around the world.
Some facts about maternal mortality:
- “Maternal mortality has declined by about two-thirds in Eastern Asia, Northern Africa and Southern Asia.”
- “Complications during pregnancy or childbirth are one of the leading causes of death for adolescent girls.”
- “Most maternal deaths in developing countries are preventable through adequate nutrition, proper health care, including access to family planning, the presence of a skilled birth attendant during delivery and emergency obstetric care”
With International Women’s Day around the corner stay tuned for the UNAGB Women’s Forum next event! We hope to see you there!
– Kendall, WF Steering Committee Member