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UN Millenium Development Goals: III. Promoting Gender Equality and Empowering Women

The third UN MDG (Millenium Development Goal) is concerned with promoting gender equality and empowering women. As sad as it sounds, on both global and national levels, we are far from having reached this goal. On the current agenda, however, the empowerment of women around the world is in a key position.

The goal, in general, means:

-Improving girl´s participation in education around the world

-Increasing the amount of women in worklife

-Increasing the amount of women in parliaments

Currently, two thirds of all illiterals globally are girls or women. Child mortality numbers are highest in countries where girl´s educational levels are at their lowest.

  • The human rights declaration guarantees equal rights for both women and men.
  • Gender differencies in primary schooling have narrowed down, however, gender equality at all educational levels worldwide has still not been reached.
  • Women account, on a global level, for about 40 % of all workforce involved in other than agricultural work.
  • The major part of unpaid household work, worldwide (even in developed countries), is taken care of by women.
  • 70 % of all poor worldwide are women.
  • Only 1 % of all wealth worldwide is currently in the hands of women.
  • Under 20 % of all leading positions worldwide are held by women.
  • The number of women in parliament is about 20 % worldwide => large regional differencies.
  • At whole, the situation is at its worst in Southern and Western Asia and in Africa.

(Source: UNA of Finland. Printed material. 2014).

In order to accelerate the promotion of gender equality worldwide and the empowerment of women everywhere, the UN General Assembly created UN Women in 2010. UN Women comprises:

– Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW)

– International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW)

– Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI)

– United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

and its main roles are:

– Supporting inter-governmental bodies

– Helping member states in the implementation of these standards

– Holding the UN system accountable for its own commitments

Despite of the hard work and the progress in improving the lives of women worldwide, there is still a huge amount of work ahead in helping women all over the world e.g. in getting access to decent work and in abolishing violence and discrimination.

(UN Women. Quoted 7.5.2014).

According to Helsingin Sanomat (25.10.2013) and the World Economic Forum (Quoted 7.5.2014), the world´s most equal countries (top 10) are currently:

1. Iceland

2. Finland

3. Norway

4. Sweden

5. Philippines

6. Ireland

7. New Zealand

8. Denmark

9. Switzerland

10. Nicaragua

(World Economic Forum. The Global Gender Gap Report 2013. Quoted 7.5.2014).

According to the WEF Global Gender Gap Report 2013, progress in gender equality has been made in 80 % of the 136 countries researched. The top most equal countries are, however, still 20 % behind from full gender equality. Indicators include: participation in politics, economic equality, rights to participate in education and access to healthcare. Progress in equality was not made in the Middle-East and North Africa: especially in Jemen the situation for women, according to the WEF, is bad. (Helsingin Sanomat 25.10.2013. Quoted 7.5.2014).

Global Finland, the platform for development communication of the Foreign Ministry of Finland, indicates that development does not take place without gender equality. Women are needed throughout societies in order to operate with full efficiency. Educating and employing women enhances welfare of families and accelerate the growth of prosperous societies. Scary enough, more women between the ages 15-44 get killed and become disabled by violence than by cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and wars together. 80 % of all human trafficing victims are women, and they usually end up becoming sex slaves or prostitutes. (Global Finland. Quoted 7.5.2014).

There are enormous problems, sometimes deeply rooted in cultural behavior, that still need to be solved before the world is fully equal for both sexes. Luckily, the UN, many other organizations and people work hard to enhance gender equality.

  • Can you think of ways to improve conditions on a regional and national level?
  • What actions can you personally take to make sure that this basic human right of gender equality is fulfilled?

WHEN EACH ONE OF US (BOTH MEN AND WOMEN) COMMITS TO TAKING THE NECESSARY ACTIONS TOWARDS REACHING GENDER EQUALITY, WE WILL REACH THE GOAL. 

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