For more than a decade now, one of the centerpieces of socio-economic development, and foreign aid has been the effort to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs have been an influential framework for global development cooperation, not only in shaping the international discourse, but in driving the allocation of resources towards key global development priorities. They have proved to be a useful communication tool because their established time bound and concrete targets are meant to galvanise political leaders, civil society organizations, media and international organizations around a clearly defined agenda intended to improve human development. Despite the attention given, its dynamism in national policies, the enormous technical and financial energy expended towards the attainment of the MDGs, many countries and Nigeria is reported to be “off-track” (MDGR
Nigeria, 2010). The thrust of this study therefore has been a critical interrogation of where some of those gaps emanate from. The thesis argues that gender equality and the empowerment of women as contained in MDG 3, is at the core of all MDGs, ranging 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. It reiterates that gender is an essential ingredient for the successful achievement of all MDGs. These arguments have been outlined in the review of literature in chapter two and in the methodology chapter which adopted a content analysis of the issues in the report. The discussion chapter offers the researcher‟s thoughts. The study concludes that implementation of development projects, and the narration of the processes and impacts should pay attention to gender for purposes of inclusion and equity. As such, the study provides gender dimensions of each MDG reporting and highlights the need to make available adequate resources at all levels; and to address inequitable global economic policies, as well as gaps between rich and poor countries. The study provides arguments, key findings and learning relevant to the achievement of MDGs from the standpoint of gender equality; and argues extensively that gender inequality is more pervasive than other forms of inequality and is a feature of social relations in most societies. Consequently, the researcher argues that understanding the causes and consequences of gender inequality should concern and inform all societies.
1.1 Background to the Study
The shift in development thinking and practice towards a more people-centered programs and the need for participation of people in decision-making concerning their lives is creating new opportunities for social change (Kabeer, 2003). The empowerment of men and women, gender analysis, equity, social factors, holistic approaches and respect for indigenous knowledge are becoming elements of many development programs. At the heart of this change is communication. Communication is fundamental to the achievement of meaningful development in our world today; it is through communication process that people can become aware of their need for development and further help them make informed decisions on issues that matters to them.
Most major issues on the development agenda (e.g. gender equality) in the last decades still remain as challenges facing the world in the new millennium, and are addressed in the eight MDGs adopted by the UN in 2000 Panos (2006). These reflect the multi-dimensional aspects of poverty and the needs of the poorest and traditionally marginalized groups. The UN World Summit of 2005 reaffirmed gender equality as a development goal itself (MDG 3) and underlines its importance as a means to realize all of the other MDGs. But despite efforts by the UN to mainstream gender in their development intervention works, discrimination against women and the girl-child remains the most pervasive and persistent impediment to development today. (UNDP, 2010).
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