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‘Empowering women is morally right and economically vital’

‘Empowering women is morally right and economically vital’

Iman Kurdi of Arab News explains why one of the Millennium Development Goals is far more important than the rest, and how the UN missed a few more.

September 28, 2010 4:16 by

Ban Ki-Moon, the UN secretary-general, opened this week’s summit in New York on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on an optimistic note.

He told us not to lose hope, that with just five years to go, the goals could still be achieved. All that is required is the political will to do it. It kind of sums up the UN as an institution. It could achieve so much if only the political will to do it could somehow be found. But the MDGs are not some pipe dream, they are a set of concrete goals that were set out in 2000 aiming to radically improve the lot of the world’s poorest people by 2015.

There are eight goals:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and eliminate hunger.
2. Achieve universal primary education.
3. Promote gender equality and empower women.
4. Reduce child mortality.
5. Improve maternal health.
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria and other diseases.
7. Ensure environmental sustainability.
8. Develop a global partnership for development.

One look at those goals and you can see it is an admirable wish list. It aims to give to the poorer half of the hemisphere what the more developed half already has. It also clearly acknowledges that these goals are interdependent.

But there is also something missing, something that any Miss World contestant would have pointed out in an instant. Where is world peace? I say this smiling. If you come up with a wish list to change the world for the better, surely the first step is peace and security? And where is good governance and, dare I say it, democracy? Not relevant, I guess. First get the people fed and out of poverty and then worry about how they are governed. It’s a matter of priorities.

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