The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are set of eight goals agreed in a meeting held at the United Nations World Summit on social development in Copenhagen in the year 1995 to assist in the transformation of the countries in the global south to achieve development. The goals was to reduce by half the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015, and targets are on income poverty and hunger, maternal and child mortality reduction, health services for all, gender inequality and the environment by creating a sustainable means; these eight goals provide diverse scope for the eradication of extreme poverty (UNDP, 2010).
This brief will evaluate some of the MDGs goals and the achievements till present, it will also examine the link between poverty and gender inequality. There have been lots of debates and materials on gender but the concept of ‘gender’ though widely used often misunderstood; this brief will examine the definition of gender and how it is construed socially.
More so; this brief will look at some new sets of consideration that could possibly become relevant in rethinking new policies to a more successful MDGs goals, especially in the area of using gender as a new lens to view development. In the latest WB report (2010) the chart on poverty and inequality revealed that gender inequality (MDG3) and poverty alleviation (MDG 5) are still below the target line. Although, a reduction in poverty was recorded in China and some other parts of Asia but in Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia poverty is still below the target line.
In the area of universal primary education (MDG 2) the report stated that target is being met, with over 90 percent of primary age children enrolled with increase among girls; this is said to be a step into shrinking the gender gap in education. Gender gap may be shrinking in primary education, but in tertiary education, employment, maternal health care, political position for women and gender parity is still evident. (WB, 2010. p16).
This latest WB report has shown the urgent need for women to be more involved in the development thinking, according to Pearson (2000, p. 1) it was argued that “gender is still a central part of the understanding and objectives of development” (Pearson, 2000. p. 384). Gender and development (GAD) has created the realisation for the need of women to participate in political policy making and decision making that will advance social change and poverty alleviation (Cornwall and White, 2000. P. 1). According to Holmes and Jones (2010, p. ) “… gender inequality causes and perpetuates poverty and vulnerability, especially for women, while greater gender equality can help to reduce poverty and vulnerability… ” (Holmes and Jones, 2010. p. 1)
The Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) as part of the UN’s charter on equality has been promoting changes for women and advocate for gender equality and empowerment, and in The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) discrimination against women was defined as “… ny distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field” (UN, 2009). Gender studies have been able to identify flexibility in gender which encompasses women and men, race, class, age, ethnicity and location.
Gender identities refers to some people having multiple sexualities, gender relation refers to the relationship between men and women while gender roles relates to household choice socially assigned to men and women (Momsen, 2010. p. 1-2). In Momsen (2010, p. 1) gender discrimination is said to be the aftermath of colonisation “… the modern sector takes over subsistence activities formerly undertaken by women. Often the majority of the better paid jobs involving new technology go to men” while low paid jobs in factories are created for women.
Stereotyping profession to a particular gender is discriminatory towards the other gender (Momsen, 2010. p1). It was said in the WB report (2005 )that very little consideration is given to gender equality as gender blindness persist as a result of stereotypical interpretations shape by popular perception of the role of men and women. Although both men and women are affected in the incidence of armed conflict, but according to Amani (2006, p. 3) when the men are killed in battle the women are faced with a major caring role to survivors who have become incapacitated.
The impacts of armed conflicts leads to displacement and gender based violence (GBV) and as Amani (2006) argues that, GBV “… are not inevitable outcomes of armed conflict, but rather are deliberate strategies of war that destabilise families and communities. Physical and sexual violence, particularly towards women and children, occur with greater regularity during and after armed conflict”. In armed conflict the assumption is that men are fighters and women are meant to aid them, this acceptance of gender stereotyping is the main reason for the persistence of gender blindness (Amani, 2006. p. 3).
The role of women socially constructed is gender bias, men are often referred to as Head of household; the breadwinner’s role has been doled out to men with all other members defined as dependants. The treatment of women in quantitative statistics according to Moser (1993, p. 16) affects data collection because it failed to recognise the participation of women in agriculture. Momsen (2010, p. 1) also writes that the modernization in the agricultural sector has also altered labour, “women are been excluded for benefiting from improved agricultural methods, with most women having lost control over resources and land” (Momsen, J. 010. Pp1).
According to Moser (1993, p. 17) it is estimated that women head one-third of the worlds households and female headed household is said to be increasing (Moser, C. 1993, pp: 16-17). Women has triple role, not only reproductive work, the child bearing and home keeper also secondary income earners in productive work. The role of men and women if examined differently reveals the division of labour on the basis of gender and provides the fundamental principle for differentiating the work that men do and women.
This presents the underlying principle for the disparity in the worth placed on their jobs. This accounts for links between genders in division of labour and the subordination of women (Moser, C. 1993, pp: 27-29). The MDGs goals to half world poverty by 2015 has just five years left to achieving this and according to the WB (2010) latest report it projected some setbacks. This brief is proposing a review of policies in the eight international goals of the MDGs which have gender issues cuts across all.
The progress of the MDGs will require a coordinated policy approach that is gender sensitive; and a social protection policy that could advance the progress of poverty reduction strategy if imbibed with gender equality programme designed and guided by a clear analysis of gender risks. Holmes and Jones (2010, p. 1) suggested that “with strong political commitment, strategic coordination, and long-term funding could achieve real change” (Holmes and Jones, 2010. Pp. 1). In providing programmes such as employability training, childcare facilities should be provided to support nursing mothers.
Women often are intimidated by their partners, according to Holmes and Jones’s recommendation; cash transfer programmes can be used as a means relieving financial hardship and can also serve as an interactive sessions for women on the program to meet with the programme workers to address issues such as domestic violence and child labour. This would serve as a form of data collection on sex disaggregated, and should be essential part of monitoring and evaluation of social protection programmes. (Holmes and Jones, 2010. p. 1-2) Poverty as explained by Sen. 1999) is viewed from two perspective which are not related, ‘lowness of income’ as poverty and ‘capability inadequacy’ as poverty. Income is a means to capabilities and this will enhance the ability for a person to be more productive and earn a higher income.
Sen. , argued that a better education and improved health care will result in improved quality of life thereby, leading to a removal of income poverty. However, the reduction of income poverty should not be the main focus of antipoverty policy alone but also should focus policy on the quality of lives people can lead and freedom they can have (Sen, A. 999. Pp. 90). Income should not be the only means of measuring poverty, Sen. ‘s definition of poverty which was said to be deprivation, with his analysis income should not be a global measuring tool for poverty but rather look at how many are deprived and use education as a tool in the eradication of poverty, the new antipoverty policy should outline a smooth in transition from school to work and entrepreneurship training with grants to kick start.
Gender equality can also serve as links to poverty reduction across the MDGs; it should be backed by renewed commitment and implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Platform for Action (UN, 2009). In many occasions when gender is mentioned, it tends to focus on women while ignoring the manner which power and gender parity between the two sexes can have a disadvantage effect. In armed conflict displacement forced as the aftermath of conflict is not regarded as violation of human right; but attributed to domestic or cultural issues that are ignored.
The international commitment for the protection of women and girls rights in the event of armed conflict has not yet been endorsed by many governments; this has hindered the progress of gender equality (Amani, 2006. p. 3). With a renewed commitment proposed by DAW if implemented will mean that women are capable of doing same jobs as men if financially empowered and trained; this will reduce the gap in gender inequality. The impacts of armed conflicts leads to displacement and gender based violence, it will be proposed that the UN should make effort to reduce conflict and increase securities.
Armed victims should be properly cared for with interventions for women, financial support should be given and the soldiers should be made to surrender their weapons and run reorientation programmes for them. Gender inequality awareness program should also be imbibed into the governing constitution in regards to armed conflict and post conflict rebuilding; this will necessitate improved collaboration among international institutions, states and NGOs (Amani, 2006. p. 4).
In the agriculture sector women should be assisted in increase productivity by having access to markets through a range of interventions. In conclusion of this brief the policies of the MDGs eight goals towards eradication of poverty was examined and a review of the MDG3 on gender equality was focused on. It was seen that the gap in gender parity is still broad, has a result of socially constructed role for both women and men and the major difference in employment and training between genders. This brief also examined the definition poverty as explained by Sen.
Which was said to be deprivation due to lack of empowerment, with his analysis income should not only be the global measuring tool for poverty but also empowerment for both gender. However, this brief proposed policy review across all MDGs goals and the amended policy should focus more on Gender equality by ratifying and implementing the CEDAW’s act on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against; this could be the new focus on poverty reduction and may provide the answer to closing the gap in inequality among genders, education, health care, agriculture and productive work with equal pay for both sexes.
Above all, it is essential to recognise that addressing gender issues is not merely a technical task to be completed. It is critical to programme effectiveness and the achievement of the MDGs. Finally, women’s lack of voice their lack of influence is a major barrier to the achievement of MDG8, the creation of partnerships for development.
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