Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
Discrimination against women and young girls is rampant
throughout the world. And while women of industrialized
nations have had the right to vote and work for many years,
women in other parts of the world are subjected to unspeakable
horrors because of their gender. Subjugation, poverty, illiteracy,
and degradation are characteristics of many women's lives.
Consequently, because these abuses have gone on for so long, it is difficult to transform the thinking. But the best way to do so is to start with the children. If they know at an early age that both sexes are equal, then they will become adults who know nothing else. Equality will be the norm to them. Thus, the third goal of the MDGs speaks to this specific philosophy.
Target 1: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015.
Obviously 2005 has long come and gone and needless to say, gender disparity has not been eliminated. Unfortunately, it is still not even close to being eliminated, as millions of young girls do not attend school. And, it is highly unlikely that the goal will not be reached by the year 2015. But one should not despair because significant steps have been taken to remove factors that prevent girls from going to school resulting in many impoverished girls now being educated. Had a target not been set, the progress may not have been so positive.
As the goal is also to empower women, the target had sub-targets which speak about the number of women who obtain jobs in non-agriculture areas as well as the ratio of men to women holding seats in national parliament. Much progress has been made in this regard as individual women have been able to begin small businesses not only helping to sustain their own families but also employing other women and helping them. Gender equality in business hasn't been achieved anywhere but in a few countries - but in developing nations, the inequality is sometimes just amazing.
There are in fact many examples of how women are changing their lives through micro-credit, funding for businesses, donations of raw materials, and fair trade jobs.
- One exciting example is Patricia from La Paz, Bolivia. Her story is told by ACCION. ”She was confident in her skills to produce beautiful, marketable products – but lacked the resources to invest in her business’s growth. ACCION partner BancoSol, a microfinance bank...proved to be the missing ingredient...With her first loan, which was equivalent to only US $200, Patricia stocked up on yarn and other raw materials. Her next loan, for US $500, enabled her to buy another knitting machine”. As her success continued, the loans increased and now she is able to employ other women as well.
- As for voting and women in parliament, MDG Monitor states that “Rwanda has the highest number of women parliamentarians in the world with women constituting nearly 50 percent in the Chamber of Deputies and about 35 percent in the Senate. The Government of Rwanda also has 34 percent of women in its Cabinet”. What is particularly noteworthy about these statistics is the fact that the first free election was held in 2006 and yet they have made such amazing progress for women.
- According to CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency), “all initiatives in Canada's aid program make gender equality considerations explicit, and a wide range of projects directly address gender-based issues”. The agency and its partners are directly responsible for creating forty thousand full-time jobs for impoverished widows by a rural road construction project in Bangladesh; adult literacy programs in Senegal allowed thirty-six thousand students to become literate with at least seventy-five percent being women; and in Peru, as a result of making the public aware, women hold seventeen percent of the seats in Congress.