The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) collectively present a vision for a more just and equal world: a promise by 189 countries to achieve social justice for all.
All of the Goals – from reducing poverty and hunger, to achieving universal education and stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS – are interdependent and each one depends on making progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Achieving these Goals is also an essential precondition for women to access justice. Without education, awareness of rights and decision-making power, women are often unable to claim their rights, obtain legal aid or go to court.
There has been important progress on some of the MDGs, with impressive gains in education, and reductions in poverty and child mortality.
However, with the target date of 2015 in sight, it is increasingly clear that progress towards meeting many of the Goals is off-track. Inequality, including gender inequality, is holding back progress and there have been the fewest gains on those Goals that depend the most on women’s empowerment, for instance maternal health.
Ending gender-based injustices that create barriers to women’s and girls’ opportunities must be the centrepiece of further action.