Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women



Poverty has a woman’s face. Global prosperity and peace will only be achieved once all the world’s people are empowered to order their own lives and provide for themselves and their families. Societies where women are more equal stand a much greater chance of achieving the Millennium Goals by 2015. Every single Goal is directly related to women’s rights, and societies were women are not afforded equal rights as men can never achieve development in a sustainable manner. In Asia, Latin America, and Africa, where women have been given the chance to succeed through small business loans or increased educational opportunities, families are stronger, economies are stronger, and societies are flourishing.

What are the Targets?

Goal 3 of the Millennium Development Goals sets out by the year 2015 to:

  • Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015.

Did you know?

  • Of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty around the world, 70% are women. (Source: World Revolution)
  • Women do about 66% of the world’s work in return for less than 5% of its income. (Source: Women’s International Network)
  • In the least developed countries Nearly twice as many women over age 15 are illiterate compared to men. (Source: UNFPA)
  • Two-thirds of children denied primary education are girls, and 75% of the world’s 876 million illiterate adults are women. (Source: AskWoman)
  • Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half of the world’s food, and yet earn only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property. (Source :World Development Indicators, 1997, Womankind Worldwide)

Reports, websites and other documents related to Goal 3

Gender Equality and the MDGs – The United Nations Inter-Agency
Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE), the OECD/DAC Network on Gender Equality and the Multilateral Development Bank Working Group on Gender have launched a new website; an online resource on gender equality and the Millennium Development Goals.

The State of World Population 2005 – UNFPA’s report, The Promise of Equality: Gender Equity, Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals, calls upon world leaders to fulfill promises made to the world’s women and young people in order to meet poverty reduction goals agreed to at the 2000 Millennium Summit. Read the full report available in Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Progress of the World’s Women 2005: Women, Work and Poverty – UNIFEM’s flagship publication makes the case for more focus on women’s informal employment as a key way to reduce poverty and strengthening women’s economic security. Read more here.

En Route to Equality: a gender review of national MDG reports – 2005 – ‘En Route to Equality’ is a review of national MDG reports through a gender lens commissioned by the UNDP Bureau for Development Policy. It highlights positive trends and examples of effective gender mainstreaming, while flagging continuing areas of concern.

The World Health Report 2005 – Make Every Mother and Child Count – This report by the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that hundreds of millions of women and children have no access to potentially life-saving care with often fatal results. To download the full report visit the WHO website

Gender Equality Beyond 2005: Building a More Secure Future – Backgrounder – The year 2005 is critical for energizing efforts to put gender equality at the top of the international peace and development agenda. In recognition of this pivotal year, the theme for International Women’s Day 8 March 2005 is Gender Equality Beyond 2005: Building a More Secure Future. The theme emphasizes that a renewed focus on gender equality is a practical investment strategies to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. Read the full document here

The Beijing at 10 – Review and Appraisal in the Commission on the Status on Women in 2005 – In the Political Declaration adopted in by the United Nations General Assembly at its twenty-third special session in June 2000, Member States agreed to “assess regularly further implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action with a view to bringing together all parties involved in 2005 to assess progress and consider new initiatives, as appropriate, ten years after the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action”.Read more and download the full documentation here.

Women’s Empowerment Gender Equality and MDGs – Gender perspective on MDGs and importance of gender equality for achieving MDGs, from poverty eradication, protecting environment to access to healthcare. By Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO). Read the document here

MDGender Net – This site is a collaborative effort of the UN Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality, the OECD/DAC Network on Gender Equality, and the Multilateral Development Bank Working Group on Gender which seeks to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in the work of multilateral development banks and international financial institutions. To visit the MDGender website click here

Pathway to Gender Equality CEDAW, Beijing and the MDGs – Advancement of women’s right to gender equality is critically necessary for progress of MDGs. MDGs should be treated not as a new agenda but as a new vehicle for the CEDAW and Beijing implementation. A publication by UNIFEM. Visit the UNIFEM website to download the publication

Seeking Accountability on Women’s Human Rights—Women Debate on the Millennium Development Goals – Through these debates, many women are seeking to reframe the development dialogue, to put gender, racial equality and human rights, including social and economic rights, center-stage. They are also exploring how to use the MDGs as tools to challenge the status quo, to demand action on women’s key concerns, to mobilize civil society in both North and South, to highlight labor rights and employment needs, and to push for a global reordering of the world’s resources. To learn more go to Women’s International Coalition for Economic Justice January 2004.

Progress of the World’s Women 2002 Gender Equality and MDGs – This report by UNIFEM presents data and analysis relating to Goal 3–promoting gender equality and empowering women.Read the report

UNIFEM Annual Report 2003-4 – Reducing feminized poverty, ending violence against women, halting spread of HIV/AIDS, achieving gender equality in democratic governance are some of the issues consiedarted in the UNIFEM Annual Raport. Read the report here

Engendering the MDGs on Health 2003 – Materials from the Department of Gender and Women’s Health WHO 2003 highlighting the importance of addressing gender norms and inequalities as critical for the achievement of each MDG. To read more click here.