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IPS Explores Why Some Advocates Say Women-Focused MDGs Are Missing The Mark

“A month ahead of the 2010 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) review summit at the United Nations, some women’s groups are voicing concern that member states’ commitment to women’s issues is insufficient and slowing progress towards gender parity worldwide,” Inter Press Service reports in an article that examines progress towards reaching women-centered MDGs.

“For example, whereas efforts towards MDG 1 (cutting 1990 poverty rates in half by 2015) have seen considerable success, other goals, such as MDG 5 (improving maternal health) are nowhere near the projected success rate,” the news service writes. According to the article, from “1990 and 2005, maternal deaths were reduced by less than one percent – far from the goal of a three-quarters reduction by 2015. … Similarly, progress towards targets of MDG 3, such as boosting women’s political participation and eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2015, has been halting.”

The piece details arguments made by some women’s rights groups that disparities seen between the MDGs relating to women versus the others is because “[f]ocusing on individual women’s issues, such as maternal mortality and access to education, fails to take the larger picture into consideration – the symptoms are being treated while the infection spreads.”

The article includes comments by Lysa John, global campaign director of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), and Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s deputy representative to the U.N., who discuss a more systemic approach to improving women’s rights and the need for women to obtain positions of political power in many parts of the world. According to IPS, “[b]oth Truscott and John believe that the creation of the agency’s new women-focused entity, U.N. Women, will be instrumental in effecting positive change for women’s rights” (Rubenstein, 8/24).