In the year 2000, the Great War of Africa raged. Meanwhile, chaos descended on Chechnya, Ethiopia and Eritrea were at battle and Iraq was deemed a no-fly zone. Yet, as internal and international conflicts simmered and flared, something astonishing happened: the world came together and agreed that it was time to create a safer, healthier and more prosperous planet.
All the 189 United Nations member states at the time (there are currently 193) established and committed to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight international development goals designed to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, reduce child mortality, combat disease, protect the environment, improve maternal health, promote gender equality and (of course) achieve universal primary education, hence improving the quality of life for all of us. And another thing they agreed on: the deadline for achieving all of this would be 2015.
With varying progress on each, 2015 does at times seem a lofty goal. After all, there are 62 million girls not in school today. While 17,000 fewer children are dying each day, children born into poverty are still almost twice as likely to die before the age of five (UNICEF; Unesco, 2014). The number of new HIV infections declined by 44 percent, but an estimated 2.3 million people are newly infected (UNDP, 2014). In 46 countries, more than 30 percent of parliament members in at least one chamber are women yet gender violence is still a major problem and, in every developing region, women tend to hold less secure jobs than men, with fewer social benefits (UNDP, 2014).
There are efforts to speed things up. This year the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women agreed on a document that calls for the acceleration of progress towards achieving the millennium development goals.
Still, 2015 looms.
Deadline or not, the very creation of the MDGs is too momentous to be ignored. If the turbulent world of 2000 can see through the chaos and come up with the plan, we too can push forward to 2015 and beyond. As I type, UN Member States are discussing the Post-2015 Development Agenda and a process for sustained action. Community based organizations are also taking part in the post-2015 process, along with colleges, academics and nonprofit organizations.
But the discussions need not end there. Building awareness and advocating for the continued implementation of the MDGs is something we can all do right now. It’s all but impossible to turn a page or click a link without running head first into the three little letters. Girl Rising is one organization working with A World At School for #EducationCountdown, a 500 day campaign to get every child in school and learning. You too can join the effort by writing a letter to a UN Ambassador demanding safe schools, making a donation or by learning and raising awareness about the importance of the Millenium Development Goals.
At the below this post, you will find resources and the latest news on all the MDGs. Just like 2000, let’s astonish the next generation with what we can achieve.
The latest MDG news and campaigns
Lindsay Morris is the face behind Girl Rising’s global communications. When she isn’t tweeting up a storm, you can find her managing influencer relationships and heading up The Official Girl Rising Fun Committee. She grew up in Australia and now works out of Girl Rising’s New York Office.