Set in 2000, the Millennium Development Goals are eight international goals that all 189 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by 2015. With about 18 months left (presuming that everyone has all of 2015 to achieve the goal). Not only are they admirable goals, but all eight have to do with human rights, even though these goals are not considered human rights goals or an effort to improve human rights. Below is a summary of the first four goals, their target(s), and what progress the world has made toward meeting these goals and targets.
1. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
- Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1.25 a day – This target was met in 2010! Yay! This means 700 million fewer people lived in conditions of extreme poverty in 2010 than in 1990.
- Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people – Although the number of workers living below the poverty line has been halved since 2001, a gender gap still persists in employment. In 2012, a 24.8% difference existed between men and women in the employment-to-population ratio.
- Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger – Although this target is within reach for 2015, it still means that globally, about 870 million people are estimated to be undernourished.
2. Achieving universal primary education
- Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling – More kids than ever are enrolled in primary school, as enrollment in developing regions reached 90 percent in 2010. However, the rate of enrollment has slowed in recent years. Between 2008 and 2011, the number of out-of-school children of primary age fell by only 3 million.
3. Promoting gender equality and empowering women
- Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015 – The world has a ways to go with this one. Even though the 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. Violence and poverty continue to be major barriers toward achieving this goal. Yet, the great news on this goal is that globally, 40 out of every 100 wage-earning jobs in the non-agricultural sector were held by women in 2011, which is a huge improvement from 1990.
4. Reducing child mortality rates
- Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate – Despite 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. Yet, as the rate of under-five deaths overall declines, the proportion that occurs during the first month after birth is increasing.
The United Nations refers to these goals as the “most successful anti-poverty push in history”. Although great strides have been made on all fronts, not all of the targets have been met yet, and some are very close. Now is the time to build awareness of these issues and to encourage governments and non-profits to step up and to continuing pushing toward these goals.