Gender Inequality and the MDGs: What are the Missing Dimensions?

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on world leaders to attend a Summit in New York on 20-22 September 2010 to accelerate progress towards the The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

On the occasion of the upcoming Summit, it is important to reflect on the progress achieved so far towards the MDGs. But it is equally important to examine what can be done within the next 5 years to help reach these goals, especially when looking at the relationship between gender inequality and the MDGs.

The OECD Development Centre has just published an Issues Brief on "Gender Inequality and the MDGs: What are the Missing Dimensions?".

Key OECD Development Centre facts 

Despite progress on many of the targets, the above research finds that countries that have the highest levels of discrimination against women are also those performing most poorly across the range of MDG targets. In short, discrimination against women appears to matter.

Some key facts looking at three of the MDGs (MDG1, 2 and 5):

  • MDG Goal 1 : ERADICATE EXTREME HUNGER AND POVERTY (indicator: prevalence of underweight children under 5)

In countries where women lack any access to credit, the number of malnourished children is 85% above average. Where women lack the right to own land, they have on average 60% more malnourished children.

  • MDG Goal 2 : ACHIEVE UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDUCATION (indicator: primary school completion rate)

In countries where more than half of girls aged 15-19 are married (DRC, Niger, Afghanistan, Congo and Mali), on average less than half of primary school age children are in school.

  • MDG Goal 5 : IMPROVE MATERNAL HEALTH (indicator : maternal mortality ratio)

In the ten countries where women’s physical integrity is least protected (Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea and Guinea), maternal mortality ratios are on average twice as high as elsewhere.

Related videos

MDG1: How does women’s control over resources impact on poverty and hunger?

Access to land


Access to credit


Access to property


MDG2: How does women’s decision-making power in the family and household influence education?

Education in Ghana


Early marriage vs. education in Mozambique


MDG5: How is women’s physical security linked to maternal mortality?

Joint programme on FGM/C







  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Rural Development Institute, YouTube
  2. The World Bank, YouTube
  3. The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), YouTube
  4. DFID UK, YouTube
  5. Shashank Bengali "Fighting for Her Education: A Mozambican Girl's Story", YouTube
  6. Pathfinder International, YouTube
  7. UNFPA and UNICEF, YouTube
  8. EngenderHealth, YouTube
  9. AusAid, YouTube

See also

The Millennium Development Goals

More resources

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