By Amy Lieberman
Thursday, August 5, 2010
The 10-year checkup on the U. N. Millennium Development Goals is coming up in September. Ahead of that meeting, civil society groups are editing an outcome document with an eye to ending the segregated treatment of women's rights.
Their criticism targets the structure of the MDGs, which lump women's special issues into two of the eight goals: maternal mortality reductions under No. 5 and the elimination of gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2015 under No. 3.
"It's of course not a bad thing to make a strong statement about maternal health, except if it is made in exclusivity," said Lysa John, campaign director of Global Call to Action Against Poverty. "It's not an issue you can work on in isolation. It's not just about access to a hospital or medical care, it's nutrition, education, sexual and reproductive rights and much more at all stages of a woman's life."
Amnesty says the same about girls' barriers to education; that they aren't removed just by providing scholarships, cash transfers and eliminating school fees. It's also necessary to abolish discriminatory employment and land-inheritance laws and gender-based violence.
In other words, the two goals that focus specifically on women can only be fully pursued by addressing women's special needs throughout every layer of social policy planning.
Letty Chiwara, the United Nation Development Fund for Women's chief of the Africa Division, is also anxious to see the draft document include specific, itemized goals for women.
"We've had enough commitments and we don't want a document that narrates the good work we have done," said Chiwara. "We want a document that articulates key gaps and what actions we need to close those. We still need a lot of work to achieve that."
Chiwara wants specifics, such as more funding for women living with HIV/AIDS and an increase in female participation in governments, added to the document.
The final wording of the document depends on the 150 member nations who participate in the September gathering, says Denmark's envoy to the U.N. Carlsten Staur, a co-facilitator of the outcome document.
"Our task is to realistically see what we can achieve and what we can call a fair balance of the text," Staur told Women's eNews. "There may have to be some trade-offs, where you cannot accommodate all views in one area. It will always be a compromise."
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Amy Lieberman is a freelance journalist based out of the United Nations Secretariat.
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