MDG Failures MDGs
As 2015 comes to a close and the world takes a look at the progress that has been made, it is clear that while much has been accomplished — with more than a billion people having been lifted out of poverty — many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were not complete successes, and some failed outright. Discussed below are the MDG failures and their implications.

Shortcomings: Assessing the MDG Failures

One of the major MDG failures is the fact that the success of the goals was not experienced equally across the globe; this in itself is a major defeat. Consider a few of these statistics from different countries concerning the same MDGs.

Extreme Poverty 50 Percent Reduction Rate:

  1. Southeastern Asia exceeded the goal for extreme poverty reduction by 16 percent
  2. Southern Asia exceeded the goal by 12.5 percent
  3. Northern Africa scraped by at about 1.2 percent
  4. Sub-Saharan Africa was by far the most behind. It did not even meet the goal for extreme poverty reduction and was 12.5 percent away from doing so.

The extreme poverty reduction goal of at least a 50 percent reduction in those living on $1.25 a day arguably had the best statistics for each country; from there it goes steadily downhill. This trend can be seen throughout the different Millennium Development Goals. Sub-Saharan Africa was far from reaching its goals, and not one country achieved the goal set for maternal mortality rate reduction.MDG_failures

Gender inequality was also a focus of the MDGs, but unfortunately, according to the United Nations, “gender inequality persists in spite of more representation of women in parliament and more girls going to school. Women continue to face discrimination in access to work, economic assets and participation in private and public decision-making.”

Although there were huge successes achieved through the MDGs, it is important to note that more than 800 million people continue to live in extreme poverty.

According to the U.N., “children from the poorest 20 percent of households are more than twice as likely to be stunted as those from the wealthiest 20 percent and are also four times as likely to be out of school. In countries affected by conflict, the proportion of out-of-school children increased from 30 percent in 1999 to 36 percent in 2012.”

In addition, the numbers for global emissions of carbon dioxide as well as water scarcity are disheartening. There has been a 50 percent increase in carbon dioxide emissions and water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the world in comparison to 1990 statistics.

Although there have been failures in trying to implement the goals, all hope is not lost. Progress in the form of the Sustainable Development Goals is already being made.

Global leaders are regrouping, and as the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says, “The emerging post-2015 development agenda, including the set of Sustainable Development Goals, strives to build on our successes and put all countries, together, firmly on track towards a more prosperous, sustainable and equitable world.”

Drusilla Gibbs

Sources: IRIN News, UN
Photo: Flickr, Pixabay

A new collaborative study published by the Great Initiative and Plan UK, two development organizations who work to promote female rights, has reported that the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID), has reached a great success in the implementation of a new legal statute that will measure the impact of the agency’s foreign aid operations in reducing the prevalence of international gender inequality.

The International Development (Gender Equality) Act, which was put into effect last May, places a responsibility on the United Kingdom to continually assess and implement strategies designed to strengthen international gender equality within countries receiving funding for development.

The report praised DfID for establishing a new international precedent for the integration of the issue of gender inequality into broader humanitarian efforts, and noted the U.K. should encourage other Western nations to take similar measures.

Many developed nations have become involved in the battle against gender equality in recent years, including the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs who launched the Millennium Development Goal 3 Fund in 2008. This investment of nearly $100 million proved to be the largest ever government gift to support development organizations working to support gender equality efforts. According to the Association for Women’s Rights in Development, the fund impacted the lives of 220 million people, including 65.5 million women and girls, and provided assistance to over 100,000 women’s rights organizations.

The study concluded, “We were delighted to find that the act has both driven, and joined forces with, other measures to promote gender equality. At the time of our analysis (May 2015) 64 percent of the business cases in our sample contained a clear statement addressing gender impact and only 18 percent of business cases lacked this statement,” referring to 44 development projects analyzed as part of the study.

A specific case-study included within the report analyzes the impact of a DfID-funded program to repair and resurface a road within Western Uganda on gender equality. Mariella Frostrup, a founding trustee of the Great Initiative familiar with the study, stated, “It surprised us, and indeed it turned out to be one of the most transformative projects we found in our evaluation. It identifies women’s land ownership, violence against women, women’s employment and social norms and stereotypes as issues to be addressed.”

She continued in explaining, “It mandates that 25 percent of jobs on the project are reserved for women, that women’s safety and security is guaranteed and that gender sensitization and awareness projects are run alongside the actual construction.”

Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary of the UK, explained in a June interview that DfID was determined to continue pursuing the issue of gender inequality, specifically working to reduce the occurrence of female genital mutilation and child marriage. Two of the largest issues associated with gender inequality, officials hope to reduce the persistence of such human rights violations by providing continual funding and assistance to developing and impoverished regions.

James Thornton

Sources: The Guardian, Devex
Photo: Flickr

Empowered Women
For years, women have been faced with the challenges of discrimination and inequality all across the world. Taking up 50 percent of the population, their representation in many fields has been far less than equal. While women continue to be oppressed, they hold great power in the potential to influence the end of global poverty. From brutal attacks to income inequality, there is a broad range in which women’s rights can be improved, not only for financial reasons but humanitarian as well.

Millenium Development Goals have made gender equality and women empowerment the third top priority in ending world poverty. They also include improving maternal health in their MDG as number five. One of their focuses in improving gender equality is through education. “In many countries, gender inequality persists and women continue to face discrimination in access to education, work and economic assets, and participation in government,” according to the U.N.

Through their efforts, the MDGs have successfully achieved equality between boys and girls in primary education. However, the fight continues to end discrimination across the globe.

The World Bank Organization has made gender equality the top priority in their plan to end world poverty. They stress that if girls are educated and healthy, then they have a chance to become influential leaders in their countries. Yet, in many countries women continue to make less than their male counterparts. Since many women are a directly involved with much of the worlds agriculture, The World Bank mentions the impact women can have with improving hunger.

“It is estimated … that if women worldwide had equal access to productive resources, 100-150 million fewer people would go hungry every day,” says The World Bank.

Although women deserve to be educated and paid more, the most important right they need is security. Across the world women face the danger of being kidnapped and sold into human trafficking, or experience brutal sexual assault. They are forced into marriages and discriminated against and therefore are un-cared for. According to the World Health Organization, “35 percent of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.”

Everyday women are limited to housework and reproduction. If they had the chance to be seen as equal they would be empowered to chase the dreams they have always been held back from. Therefore, making half of the population into entrepreneurs, scientists, and educated women who can help make a difference in the world. By oppressing women the world is oppressing itself from its full potential.

Kimberly Quitzon

Sources: UN Millennium Development Goals, The World Bank, World Health Organization
Photo: Flickr

causes of hunger in africa
What causes hunger in Africa? To be certain, Africa is by no means a single entity. The second largest continent on Earth, Africa is an enormous landmass that is home to a wide variety of landscapes, cultures and people.

That said, the continent is also home to much of the world’s hunger, spread across several of the world’s poorest countries. Approximately 30 million people in Africa face the effects of severe food insecurity, including malnutrition, starvation and poverty.

Ending hunger not just in Africa but wherever it occurs is crucial to solving impoverishment and, accordingly, is a leading priority for many humanitarian organizations.


Causes of Hunger in Africa


1. Lack of Infrastructure

Many of the African countries in which there is widespread hunger are countries in which there is also plenty of food. Agriculture is the leading economic industry in several of the hungriest African nations including Niger, Ethiopia and Somalia.

The issue is not that there is a lack of food, the issue is that there are are often no reliable pathways for getting that food from the fields into that hands of the people who need it the most. Many hungry countries lack accessible rural roads on which food could be transported into the countryside.

Where it does not already exist, building the infrastructure necessary for distributing food is essential to ending hunger in Africa.

2. Poverty

Poverty is a cause of hunger in Africa as well as an effect. Nearly a third of individuals living in sub-Saharan Africa are “undernourished,” and 41 percent of people in that same area live on less than U.S. $1 daily. That’s no coincidence; high rates of poverty are correlated with high rates of hunger because acquiring adequate food provisions requires ample resources, not only financial but social as practical as well.

3. Gender Inequality

According to one of the most successful hunger-focused humanitarian organizations, The Hunger Project, gender inequality is a major driving force behind hunger because food tends to go further in the hands of women. When women have adequate food supplies, they as well as their families experience better health and social outcomes than when men have sole control of food rations.

However, in many African nations experiencing hunger crises, though women do the majority of agricultural work, they do not control their own access to food. Addressing gender inequality where it occurs in Africa will be central to eradicating hunger.


AIDS is especially prevalent in southern Africa (Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe), where approximately six million people are estimated to live with the condition. Not only does AIDS render these individuals too sick to do any sort of agricultural work (which, if farming is their livelihood, can throw them into poverty), it can also render them to sick to leave their homes to acquire food for themselves and their families.

– Elise L. Riley

Sources: Save the Children, The Hunger Project, World Food Programme
Photo: Ceasefire Magazine

women's rights
Despite enormous strides made toward gender equality, the world today is still riddled with gender disparities. Below are a list of five reasons why fighting for women’s rights is so important, and why it’s still an ongoing battle.

1. Workplace Inequalities Around the World…Including the United States

For most Americans, it isn’t a secret that women still face extreme disadvantages in the workplace. Despite putting in equally long hours and given identical responsibilities as their male counterparts, women still only make 77 cents for every man’s dollar in the United States, and it’s even worse in other countries. Not only do women make less, but their responsibilities at home are often more rigorous; according to Harvard studies, men still put in a significantly less amount of time in household chores as their female partners.

2. Skewed Gender Ratios

In some countries, where population control laws were put into a much stricter affect, gender ratio disparities are skyrocketing. A favorable push of male-to-female in these countries has resulted in unbalanced gender ratio problems, where some female babies can be killed or left abandoned. In China, the gender ratio of male to female was 108:100 based on a 2013 data consensus; in India, it was 107:100.

3. Violence

According to a statement made by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2008, one in every three women is likely to be “beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.” In fact, violence against women is so common in developing countries that oftentimes it doesn’t even make the news cycle. And while many countries fail to protect their rape victims, other countries such as Morocco and Saudi Arabia have much stricter punishments. Rape victims in these countries can be charged with crimes for being “alone with an unrelated man, or for getting pregnant afterwards,” only further perpetuating the damaging notion of rape culture.

4. Marriage and Divorce

According to UNICEF, more than one-third of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before they turned 18, which is considered below the minimum age for marriage in most countries. Nevertheless, these child brides risk greater chances of giving birth at earlier ages and suffer from risks of complications in childbirth and a greater chance of contracting HIV/AIDS. Courts do little to help the problem; in Yemen, it is against the law for a woman to leave the house without her husband’s permission. This results in a high percentage of women, who are afraid of the legal ramifications, to stay in abusive relationships.

5. Education

Women currently make up two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults. Whether they are kept from school in order to keep up with household chores or their father deems it time for them to marry, women are consistently being denied their right to education; a right hardly ever denied to their male counterparts. While numerous studies have been proven to show that educating women is key to eliminating poverty and aiding development, the gender gap in education in many of these developing countries is only continuing to increase.

– Nick Magnanti

Sources: The Washington Post, Harvard Summer School, Discovery, United Nations Population Fund
Photo: Act 4 Entertainment

gender inequality
Nearly 20 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, U.N. Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is ready to tackle the remaining gender discrimination issues ahead.

Adopted in 1995 by 189 Member States at the Fourth World Women’s Conference in China, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action signified a major turning point for global support of women’s rights and empowerment. While the Beijing Conference declaration is still considered the “most effective and comprehensive policy framework for achieving gender equality,” its 20th anniversary celebration campaign, known as “Beijing 20+,” has been largely focused on the many issues that have seen little improvement.

However, the focus of “Beijing 20+,” the campaign created by U.N. Women, did not detract from mood of the event.

“The tone of the event, however, was not one of defiance, but of action and unbridled optimism,” wrote Pieter Colparet, journalist for the Daily Beast. ““Let’s get to work!” was the message that echoed through each and every speech and performance.”

During the event, Mlambo-Ngcucka boldly gave gender inequality an expiration date of 2030.

“For the first time gender inequality will have an expiration date! This is going to be a big part of our work plan,” said Mlambo-Ngcucka. “We want to emphasize that the Beijing agenda is not a women’s agenda. It is an agenda for humanity.”

The Beijing Conference declaration laid out 12 main areas of concern in 1995, many of which, Mlambo-Ngucka argued, are still issues today. The concerns Mlambo-Ngucka outlined, included:

  • Reducing the effects of armed conflict on women and girls as well as increasing women’s participation in peace and security;
  • Increasing women’s leadership and decision-making;
  • Removing gender stereotypes and increasing women’s role in the media;
  • Eliminating all forms of discrimination against the girl children;
  • And protecting the human rights of all women and girls.

U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks at the event echoed the concerns of Mlambo-Ngucka, pointing out how only 21.8 percent of parliamentarians worldwide are women. While many of the women spoke on moving gender equality to a top priority on the global agenda, the United Nations as a whole recently committed itself to gender equality in an ambitious way.

While the U.N. has been slow to fill peacekeeping positions with female employees, the organization has now to hire women for at least 20 percent of the police officer positions by the end of this year.

According to the U.N., women only made up three percent of military personal and 10 percent of police personnel in U.N. Peacekeeping missions in 2012. However, it should be noted that the deployment of women in uniformed employment positions is decided by the Member States themselves.

“Nearly 20 years on from the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, we must recognize the significant progress that was made possible thanks to the commitment of international organizations, States and civil society,” Chilean President Michelle Bachelet wrote, in an U.N. Women article on the Beijing 20+ campaign. “Only once we make this dream a reality will we have fully accomplished the Platform for Action’s mission.”

– Blythe Riggan

Sources: Devex, SmartBrief, UN Women 1, UN Women 2, U.N., Huffington Post
Photo: CNN


Many believe that giving girls across the world education would help eliminate global poverty. Educated women tend to marry later in life, are more likely to send their children to school, have less of a chance of dying in childbirth, are more likely to raise healthy babies, are less likely to get diseases and are more likely to be able to earn more money later in life.

By educating girls across the world the positive effects would be felt throughout society. Despite the advantages to global education for girls, millions of girls across the world are denied education. Here are five facts about girls’ education, or the lack thereof, around the world.

  1. Two-thirds of the 774 million illiterate people in the world are female.
  2. Over 77 million girls around the world do not go to either primary or secondary schools. A quarter of these girls that do not attend school are in South Asia. Almost half of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  3. For every 10 percent more girls that attend school, that country’s GDP has an average increase of 3 percent. For every one year of education a girl has, she is able to earn 20 percent more when she is an adult.
  4. The number one cause of death for girls between the ages of 15 and 19 is childbirth. Women with education have less of a chance of dying during childbirth. Over 98,000 lives would be saved if all women around the world got at least a primary education.
  5. Mothers with an education have twice the chance of sending their own children to school, perpetuating a cycle of education throughout generations.

In the United States, many take a basic primary education for granted. However, this is not a basic right that is awarded to everyone around the world. Girls especially are denied even the most basic of education.

By helping support bills like the Education for All Act (H. R. 2780,) more girls around the world could be provided with an education, helping themselves, their families and their communities live better lives.

– Lily Tyson


Sources: ABC News, GirlRising, Take Part, UNESCO, UNICEF, WomenDeliver
Photo: WUNRN


Gender Based Inequality in Nepal
As more Nepalese men leave their homeland in search of employment, the women—especially in rural areas—have begun to take a larger role in society. Even with these new-found responsibilities, the women of Nepal remain trapped in the cycle of poverty and gender-based inequality that has plagued the country for generations. In Nepal, a woman can run a farm yet have no access to the profits the land yields.

Nepal’s economy relies largely on foreign aid, and despite the tremendous progress since the 1990s, 40 percent of the population continues to live below the poverty line. That number declined by 11 percent overall since the mid-90’s, but this still leaves one third of all Nepalese children living under such conditions.

Unemployment leads thousands of Nepalese to migrate to neighboring India in search of a way to provide for their families. Unfortunately, the open border allowing this migration also renders human trafficking, for both sexual and hard-labor purposes, much easier. The trafficking of an estimated 200,000 Nepalese women has filled brothels across India. Someone known to the family often tricks the victims with the promise of a well-paying job. In other cases, women are simply kidnapped and smuggled across the Nepalese border into India. Low-paid border police are easily bribed—an issue activist groups currently target with practical training for the police regarding how to spot a victim of trafficking.

Abuse also follows women who migrate willingly to countries like Lebanon. Under the Kafala system, one employer receives the work permits, meaning women who dare leave an abusive employer risk deportation. Because legal employment pays little, if any, wages, many Nepalese migrants turn to the illegal informal sector. The Nepalese government has reacted with heavy restrictions on women’s travel and migration to the country.

Evidence suggests that the expansion of women’s rights can relieve a country from poverty sooner. Yet, historically, gender inequality has been ingrained in Nepalese society. Chhaupadi, the practice of forcing a women in menstruation or having recently given birth to live apart from the family until the bleeding ends, is still practiced throughout the western and central regions of Nepal. Within the Nepalese family unit, women cannot live individually, which incapacitates victims of domestic abuse who might otherwise leave. Few women report abuse or trafficking to police.

The future of the Nepalese women requires addressing the two main factors of her suffering: economic and gender-based inequality. Microloans offered to rural women proves to be one method to fight the temptation of falsely-alluring jobs abroad. Survivors of trafficking have also received such loans. In 2007, the Nepalese government enacted the Human Trafficking and Transportation Act, but without proper implementation, the Act fails to serve its purpose. The issue demands further international attention, and increased financial independence for women in Nepal.

– Erica Lignell

Sources: The Economist, Unicef, BBC News, FORBES, The Guardian, AlJazeera, The New York Times, The New York Times(2)
Photo: Google Images


Many young people in countries around the world do not have access to the kind of education Americans have in the U.S. In an effort to support global education, universities can make important additions to their programs.

According to Ethiopian Education Activist Selamawit Adugna Bekele, global education can help solve many social and health problems. For instance, education in Africa could help solve the continent’s problems of corruption, gender inequality and HIV.

Girls, children with disabilities and children living in areas of conflict are particularly at risk for being denied education. Many of the countries that have a large population in poverty are also without public education systems to which impoverished families can send their children.

UNESCO reported in October 2013 that 31 million girls of primary school age are not in school, which is 4 million more than boys of primary school age. The EFA Global Monitoring Report for 2013-2014 found that girls at the lowest level of poverty have the least chance of finishing primary school.

Here are 13 ways for universities to support global education:

  1. Create video conferences in global classrooms. Video conferences can connect one American class with another class around the world.
  2. Offer low-cost study abroad opportunities for students studying education. This will show students the forms of education around the world and encourage them to be active supporters of global education.
  3. Encourage the U.S. to increase foreign aid to global education. Widespread education leads to better economies, which would also help alleviate global poverty.
  4. Encourage the U.S. and the UN to support governments’ efforts to create public education systems for both boys and girls. This may even include providing help when militant groups oppose education.
  5. Invite representatives from organizations such as the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and the VIF International Education, who promote global education, to speak during lectures or events.
  6. Invite teenagers or adults from less-developed countries to speak about their education during lectures or events.
  7. Make connections with national and international organizations to set up internships for the university’s students. The students will already be able to envision making global education their career.
  8. Dedicate a week or more out of each semester that focuses on increasing awareness about the need for global education.
  9. Create special programs to teach students how to combat global poverty. For instance, Austin College has a Social Entrepreneurship for Poverty Alleviation program that teaches students the skills they would need, such as finances, writing, community development, ethics, race relations, public speaking and human rights.
  10. Have requirements in certain classes for the students to visit local grade schools and promote a global perspective. This would likely apply to relevant departments, such as English, global studies, liberal studies, business and social work. Methods to promote a global perspective could include crafts, pen pals or showing videos of schools in other countries online.
  11. Encourage seniors to participate in the Fulbright Program, where recent graduates receive grants to teach English in other countries.
  12. Create majors and offer degrees that focus on promoting global education.
  13. Start an Adopt-A-School program, where the university adopts and supports a school in a poverty-stricken area in another country.

There are many ways that the students and staff of universities can use their resources to promote the education of everyone around the world, and campaigns to combat global poverty also contribute to the establishment of global education.

– Kimmi Ligh

Sources: The Olympian, VIF Program, Borgen MagazineFulbright Online, UNESCO Report 1, UNESCO Report 2
Photo: Day Trading Friends

Nepal’s education system has faced many problems since the mid 1800s. The first education system in Nepal was only available to elite families, and Nepali people did not have access to education until 100 years later in the 1950s. Current day education in Nepal is still in the developing stage and did not really start integrating the use of technology in the classroom until 2007.

One of the biggest problems in Nepal’s education system is female education. This issue has been neglected since the 1950s. In fact, there is an extreme inequality in the literacy rate between men and women. In Nepal, 71 percent of men can read and write, whereas only 44 percent of women can. This is a staggering inequality for women’s education and is a direct link to areas of poverty in Nepal.

Another issue in relation to women’s education is that parents do not have enough money to ensure their children have access to proper education. The issue of poverty is taking a toll on Nepal’s education system. The public school scores are very low; in 2013, 72 percent of students from those schools failed their exit exams. This leaves 335,912 public school students with no access to a future or hope in achieving their dreams. Furthermore, statistics provided by the Teach for Nepal foundation, which is aimed at giving these students access to educational resources, stated that 85 percent of first graders will drop out of the school system and 25 percent of the students left cannot count to double digits.

To illustrate the issues that Nepal’s public school systems face, the children need access to clean drinking water while they attend school as well as at home. Nepal faces extremely hot temperatures and school buildings are covered by a tin roof. This makes the thirsty children endure unbearable heat while attending school. This includes nurseries, kindergarten and lower grades as well. The lack of water and high temperatures result in the children having difficulty concentrating and comprehending the material at hand. Thus, this combined with child malnutrition in Nepal, children in public schools do not have an advantage to performing well and tend to fall behind or drop out of school.

Given these facts, Nepal’s school system is indeed fairly new and continuing to develop, but there is still limited access to public schools. This limited access is a result of isolation of women from continuing education which leads families into poverty. Also, Nepal’s social structure discourages people from pursuing teaching professions and is more geared towards STEM subjects like math, science and engineering. Once those problems are solved, Nepal can move forward with the developing public school system and continue to rise in human development as well.

– Rachel Cannon

Sources: Global Issues
Photo: Travel to Teach