THE LANCET: Women Deliver Special Issue Press Release
Editorial -The focus on Millennium Development Goals has left out MDG3: Gender equity
The lead Editorial in this week’s Women Deliver Special Issue of The Lancet focuses on the neglected Millennium Development Goal 3 (MDG3) on Gender Equity.
The MDG 3 target was to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015. The indicators for MDG 3 are: ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary, and tertiary education; share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector; and proportion of seats held by women in national parliament.
The Editorial highlights that to date, the MDG 3 target for 2005 has not been achieved and progress since then has been slow and insufficient. Of the 113 countries that failed to achieve gender parity in both primary and secondary education by the target date of 2005, only 18 are likely to achieve the goal by 2015. The widest gaps are in sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, and western Asia. The Editorial says: “Almost two-thirds of women in the developing world work in vulnerable jobs as self-employed or unpaid family workers. As for political representation, since 2000, the proportion of seats for women in parliaments only increased from 13·5% to 17·9%. There are notable exceptions, such as Rwanda, where impressively, women occupy 56% of parliamentary seats.”
The Editorial stresses that the medical and technological approach to MDGs 4, 5 and 6 has meant that political discussions around them have excluded gender equity. It says: “This approach marginalises the analysis of gender equity as a root cause and contributing variable to maternal and child health, and is reflected in the absence of a gender focus in public health policies and programmes. Technological fixes, such as access to services, drugs, and vaccines will not by themselves achieve long lasting change for future generations. They will not percolate through all layers of society. Huge inequities in maternal and child health both within and between countries will be perpetuated.”
The Editorial concludes: “Gender-responsive governments and policies need to be put in place to protect and favour women and girls—for example, allowing young mothers to return to school... MDG 3 is not just a goal in itself but a driver for all the MDGs, and is intimately linked and causally connected to MDGs 4, 5, and 6. Now is the time to invest in understanding these linkages and form strong alliances between constituencies in health and gender equity. The Women Deliver gathering provides such a platform and an immense opportunity to take maternal and child health issues out of their currently narrow health contexts.”
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