By: Eileen Adams
International action toward gender equality is a relatively new phenomenon, and its position as a target of specific development policies is even newer. As nations first attempted to come to terms with changing structures of gender, controversy erupted over how far international policy can go to promote development. Since the recognition of “gender equality” as a Millennium Development Goal (MDG), however, opposition has become mere historical dialogue, with controversy superficially replaced by the “consensus” that gender equality was a universal right that could be obtained through targeted reforms in educational, political, and economic representation.
This paper strives to continue the dialogue, doing so within the setting of Yemen, where persistent obstacles to MDG-defined gender parity suggest that the current methodology of gender policy is not working. Rather than adjusting to the unique cultural context of Yemen, this MDG seeks to overlay a Western perspective where one is not applicable. Gender policy must be malleable when addressing questions of what true gender equality is, how success is reached, and who really benefits from reform. Discourse thus far has only narrowly addressed these questions using the Western frame; however, this paper argues that our current understandings of equity are not universal and can no longer be applied as such. In order to move discussion forward, this paper will analyze the elaborately segregated Yemeni context and approach gender from the perspective of those closest to the issue: Yemeni women themselves.
By: Jordan Gulli
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set forth in 2000 the goal of eliminating gender disparity in primary schools preferably by 2005, but no later than 2015. Kenya, in particular, has made major progress towards this goal despite significant political, social, and economic challenges. Unfortunately, its progress is not likely to be recognized since it will probably not meet the official goal of eliminating gender disparity in primary schools entirely by 2015, creating the paradox of a successful failure. This presentation will firstly discuss the MDG itself, as well as the recent Gender Parity Indices (GPIs) and how they compare to overall primary school enrollment. Secondly, it will discuss the historical context of girls’ education in Kenya and the major political, social and economic challenges that prevent girls from attending school in equal numbers to boys, such as the 2007 election violence, student to teacher ratios, and family income. Thirdly, the focus will shift to what is being done by both the government and international organizations to combat these challenges. In conclusion, when all these factors are combined and analyzed, it can be shown that Kenya has made great progress in eliminating the gender disparity in primary education, and will likely continue to be successful with its current policies, even if it is declared an MDG ‘failure.’
Author: Lauren McGuiggan
The first target of the sixth Millennium Development Goal is to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS globally by 2015. One indicator used to measure progress toward this goal is the percentage of people aged 15-24 with “correct comprehensive knowledge” of HIV/AIDS (United Nations Development Group 2003, 45). Although such knowledge is important, cultural barriers obstruct people from implementing their knowledge of HIV/AIDS prevention. In Botswana, 24 percent of people aged 15-49 years old are infected with HIV, which is one of the highest prevalence rates in the world (Weiser et al. 2006, 1940). The cultural practices of intergenerational sex, multiple concurrent sexual partners, and alcohol consumption facilitate the spread of HIV in Botswana and act as barriers to safe-sex practices. The Botswana Government has developed a Strategic Framework that includes prevention awareness as well as behavioral change programs, using specific behavioral indicators to assess the effects of these interventions. The MDG for HIV/AIDS can only be met through the development of culture-specific interventions and indicators that accurately measure progress towards this critical goal.