September 11, 2008

Millennium Development Part III: Gender Equality and Child Mortality

Last week we took a brief glance at MDGs one and two. This week we’ll take a closer look at the third and fourth goals, as well as see how dedicated groups of individuals are doing their part to make dreams a reality.

The third Millennium Development goal is to promote gender equality and empower women. Once again, we see the problem of vague language noted last week in Goal 1. As it is hard to fathom the UN promoting gender inequality, the goal itself, while altruistic and admirable, is quite obvious. Without any set benchmarks or method with which to measure successes, the pledge to “empower women” sounds weak and insincere.

One Step Forward:
Women for Women International is a nonprofit organization working worldwide in areas recovering from recent conflict. While no one will debate the negative impacts of war on local citizens, Women for Women also sees these disaster zones as clean slates. Local women complete a three-step program. While at the beginning stages participants do receive aide, upon graduation they are independent actors in their local communities. If women are part of the rebuilding process, the social structure and norms are more likely to reflect a greater respect for the role of women in the local community.

The fourth aim of the Millennium Declaration is to reduce child mortality. More specifically, UN member states seek to reduce the number of deaths of children under five by two-thirds. In contrast to Goal 3, Goal 4 has the support of a clear means to assess progress. However, the issue of child mortality is an expansive one, and the causes of low life expectancies can differ greatly between regions. Sometimes the cause can be a low life expectancy for adults. In other cases, children are more susceptible to certain diseases than adults. Activists and actors with good intentions must be very conscious of the circumstances at hand.

One Step Forward:
Faith Wanjiru owns a profitable boutique in Nairobi, Kenya. She witnessed the degradation of Kenya’s youth, as young children, some mere infants, were abandoned in the streets. She bought a plot of land outside of Nairobi, and started the Imani Rehabilitation Agency. With its onsite clinic, Imani is able to provide healthcare to malnourished or diseased children. Imani also provides lessons on nutrition and personal hygiene. If the clinic is unable to attend to the needs of any child, Imani makes sure they get proper medical care at other clinics and hospitals around Nairobi.

For More Information or to get involved with:
Women for Women International, go to
Imani Rehabilitation Agency, go to

This blog was written by Allison Tritt, a former high school English teacher, volunteer for Oxfam Japan and volunteer blogger with Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. She blogs to foster global awareness and remind others that there is always a way to get involved. Please leave your comments and feel free to email Allison at with any questions!

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