Women, Girls Should Be Central Part Of Post-2015 Global Development Agenda

Women and girls “make up half the population (and the majority of the poor), yet they’ve been neglected by the development community,” Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, writes in a Foreign Policy opinion piece. “Moreover, advocates and experts have known for years that when women and girls have the power to make basic household decisions, they prioritize education, food, and health care — the stuff of broad-based economic and social development.” She states, “Unfortunately, this fact hasn’t always influenced the official development agenda,” adding, “Take the example of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have served as a charter for the development field since the U.N. adopted them in 2000.”

“The negative corollary to the success of the MDGs is that the priorities not enshrined in the world’s report card tend to get less attention,” Gates continues. “In some ways, that’s what happened to women and girls. … Which brings us back to the U.N. panel’s recommendations for what should replace the MDGs when they lapse in 2015,” she writes. “The proposed gender equity goal for post-2015 is much stronger than its predecessor. It includes targets for limiting gender-based violence and child marriage and for promoting property rights for women,” she states, noting “the panel’s recommendation that data on every single goal and target be broken out by gender.” She continues, “I know that disaggregating data sounds mundane,” and, “[a]s it stands right now, the world doesn’t have the ability to gather the necessary data or analyze it properly.” However, she adds, “There are still two years before the next-generation MDGs are signed, sealed, and delivered. I hope that when they are, the theory underlying the U.N. panel’s report — that women are not just a development constituency but a powerful source of development — is still at the heart of the agenda” (7/17).