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Progress in Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in the ESCWA Region: A Gender Lens


Since their adoption in 2000, gender experts criticized the MDG for their failure to adequately include a gender component in their goals, targets and indicators.  In addition to reducing gender equality to one goal, the target of goal 3 on promoting gender equality and empowering women, is limited to eliminating gender disparity in primary education, preferably by 2005, and all levels of education by 2015. That target ignores the fact that gender equality can only be attained if women are empowered in all economical, social and political spheres of life.  In Arab countries where gender equality has almost been attained in enrolment levels, women’s advancement in education is not matched with higher and adequate representation in the labor force and political representation, which suggests that gender parity in education, will not necessarily translate into economic and political empowerment for women.

Only a holistic approach can lead to the eradication of gender imbalances and contribute to the alleviation of poverty and attainment of the other MDGs.  Gender equality and the empowerment of women are at the core of all the MDGs, from improving health and fighting disease to reducing poverty and mitigating hunger, expanding education and lowering child mortality, increasing access to safe water, and ensuring environmental sustainability.
In addition to the fact that not all data for MDG indicators are disaggregated by sex, the indicators used to monitor progress towards the attainment of Goal 3, to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women, are themselves not gender sensitive.
The MDGs have additionally failed to link the eight goals to other International instruments, mechanisms, and processes such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPFA), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights (ICESCR).  It is necessary to adopt a right-based approach in MDG, reporting and implementation by referring to the minimum standards found in the above mentioned International Instruments. 
In addition to adopting a right -based approach in MDG reporting and implementation; there is an urgent need to conduct a gender analysis of the causes, manifestations and consequences of gender inequality, and to engender MDGs implementation, monitoring and reporting mechanisms and processes; because it is largely women who, because of cultural, structural and legal barriers, are denied access to productive assets and resources.
The objective of the meeting is to discuss best methods and practices in integrating a gender perspective as well as a right-based approach in MDG reporting and implementation. The meeting will also review success stories in MDG reporting from selected ESCWA member countries. Furthermore, during the meeting, the experts will review and provide comments on an ESCWA draft study entitled “Progress in Achievement of MDGs in ESCWA member states: a gender lens. The meeting will conclude with recommendations on how to improve MDG reporting and implementation.