Since their implementation fourteen years ago, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have made critical strides, yet challenges remain for girls, women and young people, says a new report released today by the United Nations. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2014 shows that while some MDG targets have been met, including the reduction of extreme poverty by half, other critical targets such as MDG 5—the reduction of maternal mortality by 75%—remain far off course. The report indicates that large-scale progress is possible, but only with sufficient funding and data to address staggering inequalities.
The MDG report draws from official statistics to provide up-to-date summary data on each target at global and regional levels, with country-level data available online. There is much to celebrate: maternal and child mortality rates have dropped, and fewer people are dying from HIV, malaria and tuberculosis than ever before. After two years of steady decreases in development aid, official development assistance hit a record high of $134.8 billion in 2013. However, aid has been redirected away from the poorest countries where it is needed most. This trend will need to be reversed in order to see future progress.
Despite declines in maternal deaths, almost 300,000 women continue to die each year during pregnancy and childbirth, and largely from preventable causes. Access to family planning has been identified as a life-saving, cost-effective intervention, yet more than 220 million women in the developing world still have an unmet need for modern contraceptives. Adolescent girls are particularly at risk, with 117 out of every 1000 adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa giving birth in 2011.
Given this, it is critical that girls and women are prioritized and have a voice in planning the new sustainable development goals. Women Deliver Young Leader Esther Agbarake, Co-Founder of the Youth Climate Coalition, spoke today at the High-Level segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and drove home the importance of engaging with youth.
“For young people to also make successful transition to adulthood, they need access to affordable and quality adolescent-and-youth friendly health services and information,” she told the high-level participants. “It is, therefore, imperative that the issues of governance and participation, health including reproductive and sexual health and rights, peacebuilding and security as they relate to young people are reflected in the new development framework… Young people can and are providing the answers, ideas and innovations that can drive sustainable development and produce solutions to today’s greatest challenges. This requires the meaningful participation of young people in governance and decision-making processes across all levels.”