MDGs-1000-days_600pxAccording to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Report 2013, launched on 1 July by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, too many women around the world are still dying in childbirth when we have the means to save them; only 53 per cent of births in rural areas are attended by skilled health personnel. In developing regions, women are more likely than men to work as contributing family workers on farms or other family businesses, with little or no financial security or social benefits.

mdg-report-2013-english_230x304The report also acknowledges that persisting gender-based inequalities in decision-making continue to deny women a say in the decisions that affect their lives.

The following is a detailed account of the MDGs and how women and girls are faring in progress towards each of these goals, and UN Women efforts towards meeting the MDGs by the end of 2015.

MDG Progress Chart 2013 presents an assessment of regional and sub-regional progress as of June 2013 towards selected key targets relating to each Goal.


MDG_IconsThe eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions.

They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.




Target 1.A:
>>> Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1.25 a day

The target of reducing extreme poverty rates by half was met five years ahead of the 2015 deadline. The global poverty rate at $1.25 a day fell in 2010 to less than half the 1990 rate. 700 million fewer people lived in conditions of extreme poverty in 2010 than in 1990. However, at the global level 1.2 billion people are still living in extreme poverty.

Target 1.B:
>>> Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people

poster_AsiaGlobally, 384 million workers lived below the $1.25 a day poverty line in 2011—a reduction of 294 million since 2001.

The gender gap in employment persists, with a 24.8 percentage point difference between men and women in the employment-to-population ratio in 2012.

Target 1.C:
>>> Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

The hunger reduction target is within reach by 2015. Globally, about 870 million people are estimated to be undernourished. More than 100 million children under age five are still undernourished and underweight.


According to the Millennium Development Goals Report 2013, the world has reached the poverty reduction target five years ahead of schedule. In developing regions, the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day fell from 47 per cent in 1990 to 22 per cent in 2010.

Extreme poverty is also falling in every region.

Nevertheless, the gender gap in employment persists, with a 24.8 percentage point difference between men and women in the employment-to-population ratio in 2012.

UN Women’s efforts:

UN women bannerUN Women works to support women’s fundamental role in food security, as the cornerstones of food production and utilization. With more equitable distribution of assets, such as credit, improved seeds and fertilizer, and information and technology, women can achieve significantly higher agricultural productivity.

UN Women also works to eliminate legal restrictions to women’s economic empowerment (such as land and inheritance rights, rights to access credit, ensuring safer migration, etc.) in order to address feminized poverty.

Efforts focus on guaranteeing equal social protection and employment rights for all, whether in the formal or informal economy. UN Women also helps expand paid work opportunities for women, which often ushers shifts in gender relations, greater sense of self-worth and societal respect, a say in critical life choices such as postponing the age of marriage, a greater role in household decision-making and ability to speak out against abuse. Report 2013 Africa|UNDP



Target 2.A:
>>> Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

MDG2_July copyEnrollment in primary education in developing regions reached 90 per cent in 2010, up from 82 per cent in 1999, which means more kids than ever are attending primary school.

In 2011, 57 million children of primary school age were out of school.

Even as countries with the toughest challenges have made large strides, progress on primary school enrollment has slowed. Between 2008 and 2011, the number of out-of-school children of primary age fell by only 3 million.

Globally, 123 million youth (aged 15 to 24) lack basic reading and writing skills. 61 per cent of them are young women.

Gender gaps in youth literacy rates are also narrowing. Globally, there were 95 literate young women for every 100 young men in 2010, compared with 90 women in 1990.


Enrolment in primary education in developing regions reached 90 per cent in 2011, up from 82 per cent in 1999, which means more children than ever are attending primary school. But even as countries with the toughest challenges have advanced, progress on primary school enrolment has slowed since 2004, dimming hopes for achieving universal primary education by 2015.

Across 63 developing countries, girls were more likely to be out of school than boys among both primary and lower secondary age groups. The gender gap in school attendance widens in lower secondary education, even for girls living in better-off households.

UN Women’s efforts:

Young women from Bosnia and Herzegovina participate in a leadersUN Women focuses action on girls’ school completion rates and improving school conditions for girls, i.e. the environment that makes it conducive for girls to attend schools. From making roads and public transport safer through the Safe Cities Initiative, to addressing the lack of female teachers as role models, to the lack of separate sanitation facilities, and school fees continuing to be deciding factors for whether a girl goes to school, UN Women works to focus on these issues.

Reports show mothers with at least a few years of formal education are considerably more likely to send their children to school. UN Women works to advance women’s empowerment through education and economic opportunities, which facilitate greater decision-making by women in their household, including the decision to send children to school. UN Women also works on campaigns that address attitudes and behaviors, including concerns about female modesty, safety, and the lack of economic returns to girls’ education, factors which often hamper girls’ school attendance.



Target 3.A:
>>> Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015

MDG3_July_v2 copy copyThe world has achieved equality in primary education between girls and boys, but only 2 out of 130 countries have achieved that target at all levels of education.

Globally, 40 out of every 100 wage-earning jobs in the non-agricultural sector were held by women in 2011. This is a significant improvement since 1990.

In many countries, gender inequality persists and women continue to face discrimination in access to education, work and economic assets, and participation in government. For example, in every developing region, women tend to hold less secure jobs than men, with fewer social benefits.
Violence against women continues to undermine efforts to reach all goals.

Poverty is a major barrier to secondary education, especially among older girls.

Women are largely relegated to more vulnerable forms of employment.


Gender parity in schooling worldwide is closest to being achieved at the primary level; however, only 2 out of 130 countries have achieved that target at all levels of education.

Globally, 40 out of 100 wage-earning jobs in the non-agricultural sector are held by women. But women still enter the labour market on an unequal basis to men, even after accounting for educational background and skills.

As of 31 January 2013, the average share of women members in parliaments worldwide was just over 20 per cent. At the pace witnessed during the last 15 years, it will take nearly 40 years to reach the parity zone in parliaments.

UN Women’s efforts:


girls educateUN Women works with partners to promote the education of girls and women and overcome barriers to schooling for girls. Advancing women’s political participation and leadership and economic empowerment are two of the central goals of UN Women. This ranges from initiatives to get more women on the ballot as well as getting more women to the ballot. Boosting proportional representation to increasing the number of women in politics, to more transparent political party selection, training of female candidates and getting more women to cast their votes, are part of the efforts.

In countries around the world, women in politics are strengthening the credibility of democracies through their participation, reinvigorating political accountability, and contributing to improved efficiency in policymaking through bringing their diverse perspectives.

In India for instance, in areas with female-led local councils the number of drinking water projects was 62 per cent higher than in those with male-led councils, while in Norway, evidence shows a direct relationship between the number of women in municipal councils and childcare coverage they enacted.

UN Women works to enact and implement equal economic rights for all.

Legislation on equal pay for equal work, better access to employment opportunities, equality in hiring and promotions, leave and unemployment benefits, freedom from sexual harassment in the workplace, and other critical rights are increasingly being legislated. But serous lag in implementation of the laws continues to constrain women’s equality and empowerment.



Target 4.A:
>>> Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate

MDG4_July copyDespite population growth, the number of deaths in children under five worldwide declined from 12.4 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011, which translates into about 14,000 fewer children dying each day.

Since 2000, measles vaccines have averted over 10 million deaths.

Despite determined global progress in reducing child deaths, an increasing proportion of child deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa where one in nine children die before the age of five and in Southern Asia where one in 16 die before age five.

As the rate of under-five deaths overall declines, the proportion that occurs during the first month after birth is increasing.
Children born into poverty are almost twice as likely to die before the age of five as those from wealthier families.

Children of educated mothers—even mothers with only primary schooling—are more likely to survive than children of mothers with no education.


Worldwide, the mortality rate for children under five dropped by 41 per cent—from 87 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 51 in 2011. Despite this enormous accomplishment, more rapid progress is needed to meet the 2015 target of a two-thirds reduction in child deaths. Children are also at greater risk of dying before age five if they are born in rural areas or to a mother denied basic education.

Physiologically, boys are less likely to survive than girls. Still, Southern Asia provides exceptions to this trend as mortality rates still reflect practices related to son preference in some countries.

UN Women’s efforts:

millennium_development_goals_686x208 CHILD MORTUN Women works with partners to prioritize care of mothers. Adequate nourishment and care during pregnancy and childbirth could prevent three of the four million infant deaths in the first four weeks of life.

UN Women works to ensure that women’s voices and concerns are reflected in budgetary planning processes, including for health and education programmes that respond adequately to their needs and to those of their children. A mother’s education is a main determinant of child mortality. Studies show better-educated women space childbirths over longer periods, ensure their children are immunized, are better informed about children’s nutritional needs, and adopt improved sanitation practices. Literate mothers are more likely to bring sick children for treatment at an earlier stage and seek medical services. All of these practices lower infant and child mortality rates.

UN Women also focuses on fighting discrimination against girls– which can include female infanticide and systematic neglect. Working with UN Partners, UN Women focuses on changing attitudes and laws to address this practice. More commonly, unequal sharing of food and resources fuels higher under-five death rates for girls than boys.

Ensuring equitable access for the most vulnerable women and girls to health services is also key to bringing down child mortality. Particularly vulnerable groups, such as girls who live away from their parents or who are out of school as well as women and girls who have recently migrated to cities or are domestic workers, often fall outside the attention of social service delivery and protective social networks and must be targeted to reduce child mortality.



Target 5.A:
>>> Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio

MDG5_July copyMaternal mortality has nearly halved since 1990. An estimated 287,000 maternal deaths occurred in 2010 worldwide, a decline of 47 per cent from 1990. All regions have made progress but accelerated interventions are required in order meet the target.

In Eastern Asia, Northern Africa and Southern Asia, maternal mortality has declined by around two-thirds. Nearly 50 million babies worldwide are delivered without skilled care. The maternal mortality ratio in developing regions is still 15 times higher than in the developed regions. The rural-urban gap in skilled care during childbirth has narrowed.

Target 5.B:
>>> Achieve universal access to reproductive health

More women are receiving antenatal care. In developing regions, antenatal care increased from 63 per cent in 1990 to 81 per cent in 2011. Only half of women in developing regions receive the recommended amount of health care they need. Fewer teens are having children in most developing regions, but progress has slowed.
The large increase in contraceptive use in the 1990s was not matched in the 2000s. The need for family planning is slowly being met for more women, but demand is increasing at a rapid pace. Official Development Assistance for reproductive health care and family planning remains low.


Globally, the maternal mortality ratio declined by 47 per cent over the past two decades, from 400 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 210 in 2010. All regions have made progress, but meeting the MDG target of reducing the ratio by three-quarters will require accelerated interventions.

Worldwide, unmet need for family planning dropped from 15 per cent in 1990 to 12 per cent in 2011, driven by progress in developing regions. By 2015, total demand for family planning among married women is projected to grow to more than 900 million, mostly due to population growth – an indication of the unfinished agenda in reproductive health and the scale of efforts needed to keep pace.

UN Women’s efforts:

Women’s empowerment is a prerequisite to forward progress on this stalled goal.

philippines maternal health aug 12UN Women works to end practices that bring danger to mother and child. Child marriage, female genital cutting, dietary restrictions, and all other forms of violence and discrimination against women must end if maternal mortality is to be reduced. Early marriage has an important bearing on women’s autonomy and reproductive health. Girls who marry young have fewer opportunities to go to school, less say in household decision-making, and are more likely to experience domestic violence. They are exposed to the risks of early pregnancy and childbirth, the leading cause of death for girls aged 15 to 19 in developing countries.

Women die for lack of family planning, inability to negotiate the number and spacing of their children, lack of money to pay for transport to and for skilled birth attendance or emergency obstetric care, and from violence. One in three maternal deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth could be avoided if women who wanted effective contraception had access to it. Evidence further shows that in societies where men traditionally control household finances, women’s health expenses are often not a priority. UN Women works to ensure women’s greater decision-making and position in families and societies, so that they can have more access and voice in issues such as healthcare as well.

UN Women also seeks to increase the share of women in decision-making positions in the health sector. Women at all levels of health services can make sure the specific health needs of women and girls are not neglected, can ensure attention to local health care provision, the front line providers of health care to most women, and can help to redress inequalities in health outcomes and access that exist in every region.



Target 6.A:
>>> Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS

MDG6_July copyNew HIV infections continue to decline in most regions. More people than ever are living with HIV due to fewer AIDS-related deaths and the continued large number of new infections with 2.5 million people are newly infected each year. Comprehensive knowledge of HIV transmission remains low among young people, along with condom use. More orphaned children are now in school due to expanded efforts to mitigate the impact of AIDS.

Target 6.B:
>>> Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it

While the target was missed by 2011, access to treatment for people living with HIV increased in all regions.
At the end of 2011, 8 million people were receiving antiretroviral therapy for HIV. This total constitutes an increase of over 1.4 million people from December 2010. By the end of 2011, eleven countries had achieved universal access to antiretroviral therapy.

Target 6.C:
>>> Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases

The global estimated incidence of malaria has decreased by 17 per cent since 2000, and malaria-specific mortality rates by 25 per cent.

In the decade since 2000, 1.1 million deaths from malaria were averted. Countries with improved access to malaria control interventions saw child mortality rates fall by about 20 per cent. Thanks to increased funding, more children are sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa. Treatment for tuberculosis has saved some 20 million lives between 1995 and 2011.


The incidence of HIV is declining steadily in most regions; still, 2.5 million people are newly infected each year. However, HIV remains the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age worldwide. Every minute, a young woman is infected with HIV. Young women are more vulnerable to HIV infection due to a complex interplay of physiological factors and gender inequality. Because of their low economic and social status in many countries, women and girls are often at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiating safer sex and accessing HIV prevention information and services.

Eight million people were receiving antiretroviral therapy for HIV at the end of 2011. This represents an increase of about 1.4 million people from December 2010, which comes on top of similar gains in previous years. The 2010 target of universal access, however, was not reached.

UN Women’s efforts:

mdg_6 malariaUN Women is working with governments on enactment and enforcement of legal measures against discrimination that drives the spread of HIV and AIDS among women and girls. Efforts focus also on measures that address gender-based violence, which perpetuates the spread of AIDS. Rape, trafficking of women, forced marriage, and sexual exploitation of women and girls in situations of conflict are all recognized as significant risk factors for HIV transmission. UN Women also supports HIV-positive women and girls and advocates for their leadership and full participation policies that affect them.

UN Women advocates equality in society, including marriage and family relations. Gender equality is the foundation by which girls and women acquire negotiating power, confidence, and information to insist on safe sex in marriage and to be an equal partner in family planning decisions. Resources must be directed to the needs of the most vulnerable populations, which in many cases are adolescent girls and young women. Working with men and boys to fight violence against women and the spread of AIDS, is also part of the efforts. Women’s greater economic independence can reverse the spread of AIDS and other epidemics through increasing women’s self-esteem, negotiating power and reducing women’s vulnerability to being sexually exploited.

Caring for sick family members is seldom paid, rarely recognized, and most often done by women. Women, who are more likely to be employed in jobs with little sick leave and other benefits than men, pay a heavy price in terms of lost labour and skills-building opportunities, overwork, and less time for other responsibilities. And for women who are at home full-time looking after their family members, the burden of care prohibits not only seeking paid opportunities, but also any other activities, such as seeing a doctor for their own medical issues, and other such necessities.



Target 7.A:
>>> Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources

MDG7_July_v2 copyForests are a safety net for the poor, but they continue to disappear at an alarming rate. Of all developing regions, South America and Africa saw the largest net losses of forest areas between 2000 and 2010.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by more than 46 per cent since 1990. In the 25 years since the adoption of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, there has been a reduction of over 98 per cent in the consumption of ozone-depleting substances. At Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, world leaders approved an agreement entitled “The Future We Want,” and more than $513 billion was pledged towards sustainable development initiatives.

Target 7.B:
>>> Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss

More areas of the earth’s surface are protected. Since 1990, protected areas have increased in number by 58 per cent.
Growth in protected areas varies across countries and territories and not all protected areas cover key biodiversity sites.
By 2010, protected areas covered 12.7 per cent of the world’s land area but only 1.6 per cent of total ocean area.

Target 7.C:
>>> Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation

The world has met the target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of water, five years ahead of schedule. Between 1990 and 2010, more than two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources. The proportion of people using an improved water source rose from 76 per cent in 1990 to 89 per cent in 2010. Over 40 per cent of all people without improved drinking water live in sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2011, 768 million people remained without access to an improved source of drinking water. Over 240,000 people a day gained access to improved sanitation facilities from 1990 to 2011. Despite progress, 2.5 billion in developing countries still lack access to improved sanitation facilities.

Target 7.D:
>>> Achieve, by 2020, a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers

The target was met well in advance of the 2020 deadline.

The share of urban slum residents in the developing world declined from 39 per cent in 2000 to 33 per cent in 2012. More than 200 million of these people gained access to improved water sources, improved sanitation facilities, or durable or less crowded housing, thereby exceeding the MDG target 863 million people are estimated to be living in slums in 2012 compared to 650 million in 1990 and 760 million in 2000.


Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by more than 46 per cent since 1990. Containing the growth in global emissions demands bold, coordinated, national and international action. Efforts are ongoing to strengthen national mitigation efforts under the Climate Change Convention and its Kyoto Protocol.
The MDG target of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water has been achieved five years ahead of schedule. Despite unprecedented progress, 768 million people still drew water from an unimproved source in 2011. Most of them were poor people in rural areas. Where water sources are not readily accessible, women and girls often bear the burden of collection and must walk long distances to satisfy household needs.

UN Women’s efforts:

Water-kiosksUN Women works with Governments on development policies and programmes that both respond to the needs of women and are sustainable. This includes promoting gender-responsive budgeting and measures to improve access to safe drinking water for women, who are most often the primary users, providers, and managers of water in rural households, and the guardians of household hygiene. With improved access to safe drinking water, women have more time to earn income, girls are more likely to attend school, family health and hygiene are improved, and women suffer less from the burden of carrying heavy loads.

UN Women works on reforming policies for equitable property and resource ownership. Without title to land, women are often denied access to technologies and resources– such as water resources, irrigation services, credit, extension, and seed– that strengthen their capacity to manage natural resources (of which they are often the primary users as farmers and household managers) in a more sustainable manner.

UN Women advocates for gender equality and women’s empowerment in mitigating and adapting to climate change, and achieving equitable and inclusive sustainable development. Women are disproportionately affected by extreme weather resulting from climate change and their voices must be included, both in household and political decision-making. UN Women is a part of global climate change negotiations and maintains active outreach to ensure that decisions incorporate gender equality, women’s rights and women’s contribution in climate change mitigation and adaptation.



Target 8.A:
>>> Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system

MDG8_July copyDespite the pledges by G20 members to resist protectionist measures initiated as a result of the global financial crisis, only a small percentage of trade restrictions introduced since the end of 2008 have been eliminated. The protectionist measures taken so far have affected almost 3 per cent of global trade.

Target 8.B:
>>> Address the special needs of least developed countries

Tariffs imposed by developed countries on products from developing countries have remained largely unchanged since 2004, except for agricultural products.
Bilateral aid to sub-Saharan Africa fell by almost 1 per cent in 2011. There has been some success of debt relief initiatives reducing the external debt of heavily indebted poor countries (HIPCs) but 20 developing countries remain at high risk of debt distress.

Target 8.C:
>>> Address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing States

Aid to landlocked developing countries fell in 2010 for the first time in a decade, while aid to small island developing States increased substantially.

Target 8.D:
>>> Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries

At this time, it appears developing countries weathered the 2009 economic downtown and in 2011 the debt to GDP ratio decreased for many developing countries. Vulnerabilities remain. Expected slower growth in 2012 and 2013 may weaken debt ratios.

Target 8.E:
>>> In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries

Resources available for providing essential medicines through some disease-specific global health funds increased in 2011, despite the global economic downturn.
There has been little improvement in recent years in improving availability and affordability of essential medicines in developing countries.

Target 8.F:
>>> In cooperation with the private sector, make available benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications

74 per cent of inhabitants of developed countries are Internet users, compared with only 26 per cent of inhabitants in developing countries.
The number of mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide by the end of 2011 reached 6 billion.

Monitoring aid delivery

The Integrated Implementation Framework (IIF) was developed to record and monitor financial as well as policy commitments made in support of the MDGs by UN Member States and other international stakeholders.


In 2012, net official development assistance (ODA) from developed countries stood at $125.6 billion, representing 0.29 per cent of donors’ combined gross national income. This is a 4 per cent drop in real terms from 2011, which was 2 per cent below the 2010 level. On the bright side, aid is increasingly addressing gender issues. In 2010–2011, out of a total of $91.9 billion of sector-allocable aid, $20.5 billion focused on the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

With a projected 6.8 billion mobile-cellular subscriptions by the end of 2013, global penetration (measured as the number of subscriptions in relation to total population) will reach 96 per cent. By end of 2013, an estimated 2.7 billion people will be using the Internet, which corresponds to 39 per cent of the world’s population.

Still, while more and more people are joining the information society, more men than women are using the Internet. Globally, 37 per cent of all women are online, compared to 41 per cent of all men. The gender gap is more pronounced in the developing world, where 29 per cent of women use the Internet, compared with 33 per cent of men.

UN Women’s efforts:

human-rights-hands-up-e1291935228563Because of the cross-cutting nature of women’s empowerment for all the MDGs, assistance to gender programmes should be increased in order to pave the way for attainment of the MDGs, from allocation of resources for women’s economic empowerment to ending violence against women, a pandemic of huge proportions, which is not only a gross human rights violation, but also which hampers development and growth.

To advance gender equality and the inter-linked gender dimensions of all the MDGs, UN Women has been working with partners to train women and girls in the use of ICT as a tool for education and economic empowerment.

Information thanks to MEETIKA SRIVASTAVA


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