UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Fund for Women, is one of a number of UN agencies charged with helping countries move forward on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs, adopted after the 2000 Millennium Summit, mark the first time the international community has embraced a common set of basic development goals on poverty, education, gender, child mortality, maternal health, epidemic diseases, environmental sustainability and development financing.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set a powerful agenda for a global partnership to fight poverty, offering a shared vision of a better world by the year 2015. They aim to cut extreme poverty by half, ensure every child has the chance to go to school and live a long and healthy life, and bring discrimination against women to an end. The risks of dying as a result of childbirth are to be dramatically reduced, deadly diseases brought under control, the environment better managed, and the benefits of progress more equally shared by all the nations of the world. Together, the aspirations set out in the MDGs and their associated targets and indicators represent a powerful framework for action.
UNIFEM Responds: Strategies That Make a Difference
All eight MDGs touch essential aspects of women's well being; women's advancement is in turn critical for achieving the goals. UNIFEM is deeply involved with four critical entry points: monitoring, analysis, advocacy and operational programs that help countries transform the promises of the goals into real progress.
Monitoring progress: UNIFEM helps women evaluate whether or not their countries are on track to meet the MDGs, including through the use of sex-disaggregated data and indicators that fully account for gender gaps, and the budgets allocated to address those gaps.
Analysis: The UN Millennium Project has brought together 300 of the world's top development scholars and practitioners. UNIFEM's background papers, proven strategies and network of gender experts have made essential contributions to the projects visionary proposals for how to achieve and pay for the MDGs.
Advocacy: Longstanding partnerships with women's organizations have ideally positioned UNIFEM to spread awareness, spark debate and encourage participation in MDG activities. These include the national and international advocacy efforts led by the UN Millennium Campaign, which rouses popular support for the MDGs around the world.
Operational programs: All four branches of UNIFEM's operational programs contribute to the MDGs: reducing feminized poverty, ending violence against women, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and achieving gender equality in democratic governance. UNIFEM pilots innovative strategies and strengthens the capacity of other UN programs to support women's advancement.
UNIFEM and The Millennium Development Goals:
At Work Around the World
Africa Kenya is part of a five-country pilot project to integrate gender across national MDG efforts that UNIFEM is executing for the UN Development Programme. UNIFEM is assisting the Kenyan government and women's groups in establishing mechanisms to routinely bring women's perspectives into national policy-making.
Arab States Since Morocco is currently undergoing education reforms, UNIFEM has begun mobilizing the media, NGOs, the government and the private sector to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary schools, a stipulation of the third MDG.
Asia and the Pacific Cambodia's Ministry of Women's and Veterans Affairs partnered with international agencies, including UNIFEM, to analyze factors that constrain women's development, propose policies for ensuring that women can fully reap the potential benefits of the MDGs and assign responsibility for taking action to specific sections of government.
Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CEE/CIS) In Kazakhstan, UNIFEM assisted with the preparation of an MDG report on gender. Work in Kyrgyzstan highlights the need for MDG data disaggregated by gender on such critical national concerns as violence against women and constraints on women's access to land.
Latin America and the Caribbean In Peru, UNIFEM has sought to strengthen ties between the MDGs and women's rights. A project with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean came up with new indicators to measure the goals, including on women's employment and reproductive rights.
Globally UNIFEM has developed a number of global advocacy materials to help women understand and use the MDGs, starting with the 2002 report Progress of the World's Women which examines in detail the links between the goals and gender equality. The fund manages www.MDGender.Net, which features regularly updated information on women and the MDGs.
For more information about the progress towards these goals, please visit http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/gender.shtml.
Text courtesy of UNIFEM and MDGender.Net. Photos: UNIFEM.