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U.N. Economic And Social Council Meeting Focuses On MDGs, Empowering Women

“The world’s anti-poverty gains achieved over the past years are being eroded by the presence of multiple crises, including an unprecedented economic and financial crisis, increased food [in]security, oil prices volatility and climate change,” according to a report released Monday by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the opening of an annual high-level segment of the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Bernama reports.

“Multiple crises have created numerous obstacles for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” the report said, according to the news service (6/29).

The ECOSOC meeting opened in New York “with speakers calling for women and girls to be placed at the centre of the global struggle to achieve” the MDGs – the focus of this week’s meeting, U.N. News Centre writes. In opening remarks to conference ECOSOC President Hamidon Ali highlighted that “while the third goal relates directly to the empowerment of women, ‘all MDGs are dependent upon women having a greater say in their own development,'” according to the news service. “He noted specifically the need for greater cooperation to end violence against women and girls, and the empowerment of rural women as a critical force in reducing poverty and hunger” (6/28).

According to Xinhua/People’s Daily Online, Ali also said, “The high-level segment must therefore not only be a forum for the exchange of views and experiences, but also must produce tangible results. Results which are understood by the public at large. In the end, all of us are judged in the court of public opinion” (6/29).

“Social, political and economic equality for women is integral to the achievement of all MDGs,” Ban said in opening remarks to the meeting. “Until women and girls are liberated from poverty and injustice, all our goals – peace, security, sustainable development – stand in jeopardy” (6/28).

According to the U.N. News Centre, the ECOSOC discussions will help to shape a ministerial declaration that “will serve as a compoment to this high-level summit convened by Mr. Ban to try to urge world leaders to accelerate progress towards the MDGs ahead of 2015. The piece highlights other leaders who addressed the council, including former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet (6/28).

Xinhua/People’s Daily Online reports in a second article on comments made by Egyptian Minister of State For Family and Population Affairs Moushira Khattab during the meeting Monday (6/29).

Newspaper Examines MDG Targets

Business Daily explores the argument by some experts that MDG targets fail to accurately take into account country-specific conditions that may hinder progress towards goals. 

“Though the MDGs are a product of wide consultations, including governments of third world countries, critics cite the futility of indiscriminate setting of arbitrary, blanket, and inflexible standards to be achieved by poor countries in specific time frames,” the newspaper notes. “For Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, with low per capita income and high initial poverty, achieving the poverty reduction targets means growing at a higher rate than other countries, a Herculean task,” according to the newspaper.

“Analysts say that the high growth rate targets could escalate demand for more aid to poor nations as a way of fast-tracking progress, with little success,” the newspaper adds.

The piece includes comments by William Easterly, a professor of economics at New York University, Michael Clemens and Todd Moss of the Center for Global Development, and Aeneas Chuma, humanitarian coordinator and representative of the U.N. Development Program in Kenya (Juma, 6/29).

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