A critical push for universal progress, launched by the United Nations in 2000, has reached an official close. On Monday, the U.N. released its report on the initiative known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which targeted specific areas in dire need of global improvement over the last 15 years. Goals three and five focused solely on women, including gender equality and maternal health. In both of these areas, the U.N. reported, "We have fallen short."
Here is what you need to know: -Our world's most startling failures concern women's wages and employment opportunities. Women worldwide continue to earn 24% less than men, even with an advanced education. Of the 92 participating countries, 78 reported that more women with advanced levels of education are unemployed than men who share a similar educational background. -The U.N. found that gender equality in secondary education (high school, typically) was obtained in 36% of countries with available data in developing regions, 2012. Western Asia was alone in reaching its benchmark for gender equality in tertiary or college education. And overall, only 4% of developing countries with reportable data had closed gender gaps in tertiary education in 2012. -Globally, we have eliminated gender disparity in primary education (generally, kindergarten through sixth grade), in five of nine developing regions. It's important to note, however, that like most universal terms, primary education varies by region. "What constitutes primary education is subject to interpretation, and cross-country variation exists around the starting age for primary enrollment, as well as the duration of the primary schooling cycle," the Education Policy and Data Center explains in a report on school children. -Women continue to be underrepresented in significant government positions. Since 2005, we have managed a mere 4% increase in women who serve as parliamentary leaders and government ministers. Today, less than 20% of the government leaders in the world are women. -Childbirth in developing countries is still dangerous; women in these regions are 14 times more likely to die during childbirth than their counterparts in developed countries. During pregnancy, only half of women in developing countries receive the recommended amount of attention from healthcare providers. The report was comprised of eight goals: eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating deadly diseases, ensuring environmental stability, and working on global development. It also established a global system for evaluating countries which compares the progress of nations on an international scale. Although the report has concluded, the U.N. expects all countries to re-evaluate their developments, and submit new goals by September. “Following profound and consistent gains, we now know that extreme poverty can be eradicated within one more generation," U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. Currently, the goals for September are called "Sustainable Development Goals," and concern 17 issues the U.N. has isolated. Of these, just one focuses exclusively on women.