Gender Equality – The Forgotten Millennium Development Goal

February 16, 2006

WASHINGTON , February 16, 2006 – Gender equality, a key component for growth and poverty reduction, was the central focus of a conference today, hosted by the World Bank in Washington, DC. This conference entitled “Meeting the Gender Equality MDG: Addressing the Implementation Challenge” assembled policy makers and experts on global development and gender equality.  The participants stimulated new momentum among development partners for a joint effort on the subject and issued an urgent call for immediate steps to address gender imbalances worldwide.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are likely to fail on their third goal – gender equality – because of lack of adequate financial and political support, the World Bank says. Even though the situation of women and girls has significantly improved over the last ten years, gender inequalities are still prevalent in both developed and developing countries. The quality and quantity of the resources spent on gender issues have to be raised significantly

If the efforts for an increase in commitment to gender equality are not stepped up, the trends monitored by the World Bank show that the development community will miss the mark. "When we talk about gender equality, or about empowering women, or bringing more girls into the classroom, many think this is a women’s issue.  They’re wrong. It’s a development issue. No country can expect to progress if half its population is held back from achieving what they’re capable of," President Paul Wolfowitz said at the opening of the conference. "I have seen in my travels the unmistakable role women play—not only in improving the lives of their children and families but also in revitalizing their communities and contributing to their countries’ economic progress. All they need is the opportunity. It is time we do everything we can to help them get it," Wolfowitz added.

Danny Leipziger, Vice President and Head of the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network in the World Bank said, “We need to do better on mainstreaming, and we need to ensure there are accountability mechanisms, as well as an effective implementation of the gender equality mandate at both national and international levels. That’s why we are now calling upon everyone to take more action and make more concerted efforts. It’s a matter of smart development policy.”

The high-level consultation was hosted by the World Bank in partnership with the Governments of Norway and the United Kingdom, the OECD-DAC Network on Gender Equality, UNIFEM, the UN Division for the Advancement of Women and the UN Millennium Project.

Media Contacts
Christian Hofer
Tel : (202) 458-0936