Millennium Development GoalsBy Stephanie Jackson-Ali, LMSW

In a recent post, Foundation Beyond Belief notified members that we would be incorporating the Millennium Development Goals into our charity vetting process. In order to better help our members to get acquainted with these goals, we are rolling out a monthly explanation of the goals, the progress made thus far toward their achievement, and what we, as a global community, have left to achieve in the remaining three years of the plan. Read more about the background of the MDGs here. Unless otherwise noted, all information below comes directly from the United Nations.

Goal 8, the final Millennium Development Goal, is also the longest and most complex. This goal requires countries to work together to develop a global partnership for development. This goal encompasses:

8.A: Develop further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system
8.B: Address the special needs of least developed countries
8.C: Address the special needs of landlocked developing countries and small island developing states
8.D: Deal comprehensively with the debt problems of developing countries
8.E: In cooperation with pharmaceutical companies, provide access to affordable essential drugs in developing countries
8.F: In cooperation with the private sector, make available benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications

At the beginning of the Millennium Development Goal cycle, developed countries committed to giving 0.7 percent of gross national income to what was deemed Official Development Assistance, or $300.3 billion, to less developed countries. As of 2012, only $133.5 billion had been given in aid.1 Aid has also decreased to land-locked countries since 2010 and to sub-Saharan Africa since 2011.

Advances in open, equitable trade are also slow to develop. The Doha Round trade talks, which began in 2001, were meant to target this goal, but have so far not completed their discussions. Many tariffs still remain on developing countries that hinder their growth, and protectionist trade measures implemented after the global economic crisis have largely not been eliminated, which disproportionately affect developing nations.

More success has come in the process of debt forgiveness, as 36 of 40 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) are receiving debt relief, reducing their debt burden by 90 percent. Thirty-two of those 36 countries have reached what is called “completion point” and are receiving additional relief through the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative.

There is still much work to be done in expanding access to medicines and technology. While the number of Internet users and cellular subscribers has increased, there is still a large gap in technology users between developing nations and developed nations.

Much work is left to be done in the few years remaining for Goal 8. This work requires the cooperation of all nations around the world, especially leading nations such as those in the G20. Moving beyond the MDGs, future advancement will also require countries such as the United States to become leaders in establishing healthy aid and trade policies that advance success for all nations—or risk seeing the development gap recede further.

If you’d like to learn more about global partnership, we suggest the following reads. Globalization is probably the most controversial of the Millennium Development Goals, and FBB supports no particular viewpoint concerning which form globalization and partnerships should take. Check out these reads to get a start on the geopolitics of globalization, and let us know your thoughts on the subject.

  • The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade – Pietra Rivoli
  • The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change – Al Gore
  • The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization – Thomas Friedman
  • Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism – Muhammad Yunus
  • Globalization and Its Discontents – Joseph Stiglitz

1 https://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/2012_Gap_Report/Facts_Sheet.pdf

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Millennium Development GoalsBy Stephanie Jackson-Ali, LMSW

In a recent post, Foundation Beyond Belief notified members that we would be attempting to incorporate the UN Millennium Development Goals into our charity vetting process as we move forward. In order to better help our members get acquainted with these goals, we are rolling out a monthly explanation of the goals, the progress made thus far toward their achievement, and what we, as a global community, have left to achieve in the remaining three years of the plan. Read more about the background of the MDGs here. Unless otherwise noted, all information below comes directly from the United Nations.

Goal 7 of the Millennium Development Goals is a large, ambitious goal—to ensure environmental sustainability. This goal encompasses the following:

7.A: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources
7.B: Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
7.C: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
7.D: Achieve, by 2020, a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers1

Environmental sustainability and conservation are common topics in popular culture and the news media. So it comes as no surprise that much progress has been made toward the success of this goal.

Since the Montreal Protocol was adopted 25 years ago, well before the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals, there has been a reduction of more than 98 percent in the use of ozone-depleting substances. Since 1990, protected areas of the Earth have increased by 58 percent—now covering 12.7 percent of the world’s land, but only less than 2 percent of the world’s oceans.

Two of the targets in Goal 7 have been fully met, well ahead of schedule. Five years ahead of schedule, by 2010, more than two billion people had gained access to drinking water. 2010 also saw 56 percent of developing regions have access to sanitation.

The final target—to reach 100 million slum dwellers—was also reached well ahead of the deadline. It is now estimated that the share of urban slum dwellers has reduced from 39 percent to 33 percent in the 10 years from 2000 to 2010.

But there is still much to be done. Although millions have been reached, an increase in population and urbanization means more than 860 million people still live in urban slums, an increase in the actual number since 2000. It is also estimated that 2.5 billion people still lack sanitation facilities, and, even at the current rate of improvement, more than 600 million will lack improved drinking water access by 2015.

Nature conservation and biodiversity loss are also still huge targets to be accomplished, and require the interaction not just of individuals and organizations, but nations as a whole. This involves improved policies to avoid problems such as overfishing, contributing to climate change, deforestation, and other areas that often fall under political oversight.

In order to better focus on these goals, even after the MDGs have ended, the United Nations named 2011–2020 the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity2.

If you’d like to learn more about sustainable development, conservation, or other natural world efforts, we suggest the following reads. This goal covers a lot of ground, and no list could begin to be comprehensive, so start out with some of these, and continue to expand your list—this field is quickly becoming very popular with writers around the world.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai Undercity – Katherine Boo
Last Chance to See – Douglas Adams (Yes, THAT Douglas Adams)
Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism – Ozzie Zehner
Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature – Mark Tercek
Silent Spring – Rachel Carson

1 https://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/environ.shtml
2 https://www.cbd.int/2011-2020/

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UN Millennium Development GoalsBy Stephanie Jackson Ali

In a recent post, Foundation Beyond Belief notified members that we would be attempting to incorporate the Millennium Development Goals into our charity vetting process as we move forward. In order to better help our members get acquainted with these goals, we are rolling out a monthly explanation of the goals, the progress made thus far toward their achievement, and what we, as a global community, have left to achieve in the remaining three years of the plan. Read more about the background of the MDGs here. Unless otherwise noted, all information below comes directly from the United Nations.

Goal 6 of the Millennium Development Goals is to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. Like many other goals, it consists of a number of tasks:

6.A: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS
6.B: Achieve, by 2010, universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all those who need it
6.C: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases

The numbers are shocking. Currently, more than 34 million people in the world are living with HIV/AIDS. Malaria kills once every minute, while tuberculosis infects around 8.8 million people annually.

Each of these diseases disproportionately affects sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to more than two-thirds of new HIV infections. All regions, except Africa, are on track to reduce tuberculosis deaths by 50% by 2015. However, TB remains the number two leading cause of death worldwide after HIV/AIDS. Close to 90% of malaria cases are in Africa, and worldwide a child dies of the disease every 45 seconds.
Reaching these goals has proved slow, but progress has been seen by focusing on promoting safer sexual behavior, increasing access to anti-malaria medications, expanding use of mosquito nets, and improving housing conditions to fight TB.

Newly infected rates are falling for each of the diseases.

  • HIV infections have fallen from a high of 3.5 million in 1996 to 2.7 million in 2008, and deaths dropped from 2.2 million in 2004 to 2 million in 2008.
  • Expanded use of insecticide-treated nets is preventing the spread of malaria, especially in Africa. But poverty still prevents some from having access to these nets. 3.3 billion people worldwide are at risk for malaria.
  • Tuberculosis infection is falling in most regions, but it is especially dangerous when paired with HIV. Of the 1.4 million TB deaths in 2011, more than 430,000 of those were people living with HIV/AIDS.

Again, change comes with the spread of education and medication. More people are surviving longer after diagnosis with HIV, most due to increased information on their disease, and due to the expansion of anti-retrovirals in developing countries.

New infections still grow faster than treatment spreads, however. For every two HIV-positive persons starting a drug regimen, five new infections start. The most critical need for treatment comes for young women of childbearing age, as HIV remains the biggest killer for this demographic. Furthermore, those women who have an active drug treatment are far less likely to pass the disease on to their children.

Also, education is not spreading quickly enough to slow the disease’s spread considerably. Less than one-third of young men and one-fifth of young women in developing countries know the basic facts about HIV, including routes of infection. Additionally, the United Nations has found disparities in condom use by both men and women between those from the poorest and richest communities.

Education and treatment are the way to fight the disease, but the rate of action must surpass the rate of infection in order to stem, and eventually turn back, the tide of the epidemic. While many in the developed world see the HIV crisis as a past event, we in the giving community must remember that, both at home and abroad, there are still large advancements to be made, and lives to be saved.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of HIV/AIDS, its spread, and how aid has worked on a global scale, we suggest the following reads. While they aren’t in order, the first book listed is generally considered to be the must-read writing on the topic.

And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDS Epidemic (20th Anniversary Edition), by Randy Shilts
The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels and the Business of AIDS, by Elizabeth Pisani
The Epidemic: A Global History of AIDS, by Jonathan Engel
AIDS in the Twenty-First Century: Disease and Globalization, by Tony Barnett and Alan Whiteside
The Invisible Cure: Why We Are Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa, by Helen Epstein

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Millennium Development GoalsBy Cathleen O’Grady

In February of this year, Foundation Beyond Belief notified members that we would be incorporating the Millennium Development Goals into our charity vetting process. In order to better help our members get acquainted with these goals, we are rolling out a monthly explanation of the goals, the progress made thus far toward their achievement, and what we, as a global community, have left to achieve in the remaining three years of the plan. Read more about the background of the Millennium Development Goals here. Unless otherwise noted, all information below comes directly from the United Nations.

Millennium Development Goal 5 has two targets: to reduce the worldwide MMR (maternal mortality ratio, or maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) by 75% between 1990 and 2015, and to achieve universal access to reproductive health care by 2015.

MDG 5The UN reports that more than 350,000 women die every year from complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Almost all of these women (99%) are in developing countries: A women’s maternal mortality risk in sub-Saharan Africa is 1 in 30, compared to only 1 in 5,600 in developed countries. Maternal mortality also impacts child mortality, with those children who lose their mother up to 10 times more likely to die prematurely.

In order to meet the target of 75% MMR reduction by 2015, an annual decrease of 5.5% per annum was needed. This has not been achieved, meaning that the 2015 goals are unlikely to be reached. However, there has been substantial progress: In sub-Saharan Africa, some countries had reduced the MMR by up to 50% by 2008, and in Northern Africa and Asia, others had made even greater progress (see chart for details). The MMR decreased globally from 440 in 1990 to 240 in 2010.

The vast majority of these deaths are avoidable, including from hemorrhage, sepsis, unsafe abortion, obstructed labor, and hypertensive diseases, but require women to have access to reproductive health services, skilled medical professionals, and adequate supplies and equipment. The UN goal was to achieve universal reproductive health care access by 2015, but this is also no longer attainable, despite significant progress having been made.

According to the 2012 UN report, more women are seeing health workers during pregnancy: 53% of births in the developing world in 1990 were attended by a health professional, which increased to 63% in 2008, and 80% in 2010. Particularly dramatic increases were seen in North Africa and Southeast Asia, where a coverage rate of 90% had been achieved by 2000. Africa still sees large regional disparities, with Southern Africa having achieved almost universal coverage, while only 66% of West African women have access to antenatal health care. Only 55% of women in developing regions saw a healthcare worker the recommended four times during pregnancy.

Adolescence, HIV, and living in a rural area are all still important risk factors in maternal mortality. All of these risk factors can be mitigated by access to contraception, with an estimated third of maternal deaths being due to unmet needs for contraception. However, provision of reproductive health care has actually slowed down globally, with less money available for these programs now than in 2000.

The UN programs to address maternal mortality include widening access to health care, addressing health problems such as fistula, developing mobile medical clinics, and increasing midwife capacity in developing countries.

A succinct progress report for Millennium Development Goal 5 can be found here.

Foundation Beyond Belief considers Millennium Development Goal 5 in its assessment of all beneficiary categories. Learn more about how our Q3 Poverty and Health beneficiary, Hesperian Health Guides, brings health education materials to communities across the globe; and find out about how our Q3 Education beneficiary, Women’s Global Education Project, promotes gender equality and universal education, improving lives for women around the world.

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Millennium Development GoalsBy Cathleen O’Grady

Recently, Foundation Beyond Belief notified members that we would be incorporating the Millennium Development Goals into our charity vetting process. In order to better help our members get acquainted with these goals, we are rolling out a monthly explanation of the goals, the progress made thus far toward their achievement, and what we, as a global community, have left to achieve in the remaining three years of the plan. Read more about the background of the Millennium Development Goals here. Unless otherwise noted, all information below comes directly from the United Nations.

The initial target of Millennium Development Goal 4 was to reduce the mortality rate of children under the age of five by 66% by 2015.

In 1990, 12.4 million children under the age of five died, a number that had fallen to 6.9 million by 2012, despite population growth. This shows steady progress toward achieving MDG 4, with nearly a third of the 49 least developed countries having reduced their childhood mortality rates by 40% or more since 1993. However, every year, almost 9 million children still die before reaching their fifth birthday.

Millennium Development Goal 4A disproportionate number of deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where, in 2008, one in seven children died before the age of five. Despite important progress in the right direction, only 10 countries out of 67 with high childhood mortality rates are on track to reach the MDG target; and although the overall number of deaths worldwide is reducing, deaths in the first month after birth are actually on the increase. High fertility rates also mean that although the proportion of children dying is lower, absolute deaths in developing countries are on the increase.

Many deaths in the first five years are attributable to either malnutrition (more than 33%) or pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and AIDS (43%). Access to primary health care, infrastructure, and nutrition is therefore likely to have a far-reaching impact on child mortality. The 2012 UN report also notes that improvements in measles immunization have also had a drastic impact, reducing an estimated 535,000 measles-related deaths worldwide in 2000 to 139,900 in 2010.

Success in reducing child mortality hinges to a large extent on the success of MDG 2 (achieve universal primary education) and MDG 3 (promote gender equality and empower women), because children whose mothers have achieved even primary education have a greater chance of survival than those children born to mothers with no education. Empowering women in other ways—including removing social and financial barriers to accessing medical care and other services—may also contribute to reducing mortality rates.

Alongside maternal education, important risk factors are living in a rural area, and the income of the family, with children born to low-income families nearly twice as likely to die before the age of five as those from wealthier families. The 2012 UN report notes that neonatal health is an area desperately needing development and progress if reduction in childhood mortality is to continue at a rapid rate.

A succinct progress report for Millennium Development Goal 4 can be found here.

Foundation Beyond Belief considers Millennium Development Goal 4 in its assessment of all beneficiary categories. Learn more about how our Q2 Poverty and Health beneficiary, One Acre Fund, is playing a role in empowering women to earn an income, thereby reducing their barriers to services and health care, and helping them to provide for the next generation; and find out about how our Q2 Natural World beneficiary, Trees, Water & People, is improving sanitation and access to clean water, to protect both human health and the environment.

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Millennium Development goalsBy Stephanie Jackson Ali

This year, we’ve been talking a lot about the Millennium Development Goals. As we’ve stated, we are now incorporating these eight goals into the decision-making process in selecting our beneficiaries, and we’re working to educate our members about the goals and what they aim to achieve.

So what, specifically, are we doing now to even better achieve their integration in our charity vetting process? And how has Foundation Beyond Belief done so far in representing these goals—before we even intended to include them?

Our priorities going forward
As of Quarter 2 2013, our charity vetting process now includes a set of questions about which Millennium Development Goals an organization is working to achieve with its programs. This may be none, one, or a multitude of the goals, but all should still work in line with the mission of the organization. Charities are given extra consideration for specifically mentioning that they are working to achieve one or more of these goals.

Furthermore, while breaking down which goals we’ve previously covered with our featured beneficiaries, we realized certain goals just hadn’t had as much recognition as they deserved. These goals are given extra weight in our vetting process now, so we can better represent all types of work being done, across the globe, to help developing countries catch up to other nations.

Will the fact that a charity works toward the Millennium Development Goals (or doesn’t) make or break a charity by itself? No, but it does help our staff and interns get a better picture of the work being done, and gives an edge to one organization over another that may be relatively equal, all other points considered.

FBB's Millennium Development Goals track record

How we’ve done thus far
In the early spring of 2013, one of our interns, who had experience in studying the Millennium Development Goals through master’s level coursework and time in an international refugee agency, helped FBB look back through past beneficiary records to see which goals had been represented by these beneficiaries.

By going through, mission by mission and program by program for each past beneficiary, we were able to see that we had actually done a pretty solid job—no goal had fewer than nine organizations that worked either directly or indirectly in achieving that goal through one of its major programs.

Certainly, however, some goals were more represented than others. FBB has long been dedicated to The Natural World and Poverty and Health as large-scale program areas, and, thus, the goals of environmental sustainability (Goal 7) and relieving extreme hunger and poverty (Goal 1) were far more represented than the next closest goals.

We also discovered many program areas that had been overlooked, even within those overarching areas of poverty and health. HIV/AIDS (which is combined with malaria and tuberculosis reduction in Goal 6) and child health (Goal 4) were the two least represented areas, and are realms we are working to represent more heavily in the coming quarters.

Even with some fields less represented, we were rather proud of our overall representation. The beneficiaries we’ve chosen have sometimes represented only one area (Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Goal 7, for example) and sometimes multiple goals (last quarter’s Buddhist Global Relief touches upon four or five goals with their programs, depending on which partnerships are running at a given time).

Those that don’t necessarily fit into a goal (our LGBT or secular-focused organizations) have goals that are just as valuable in mind—goals that affect the well-being and human rights of citizens all around the world.

We’re excited about the diversity of organizations the MDG guidelines will help bring us, as they ensure we consider a full range of work being done across our world. We hope to use this opportunity to educate our community about the continued work that must be done worldwide to even the gap between developed and developing—even as the goals themselves come to an end in 2015.

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Millennium Development goalsBy Cathleen O’Grady

Recently, Foundation Beyond Belief notified members that we would be incorporating the Millennium Development Goals into our charity vetting process. In order to better help our members get acquainted with these goals, we are rolling out a monthly explanation of the goals, the progress made thus far toward their achievement, and what we, as a global community, have left to achieve in the remaining three years of the plan. Read more about the background of the Millennium Development Goals here. Unless otherwise noted, all information below comes directly from the United Nations.

Millennium Development Goal 3 is closely related to Millennium Development Goal 2 in that it targets education, but its focus is weighted more on eliminating the gender disparity in both primary and secondary schooling, as well as in employment and politics.

The UN aimed to eliminate the gender disparity in primary and secondary schooling by 2005, and at all levels of education by 2015. The 2012 UN report highlights the complexities involved in achieving this goal, as well as its limited successes. Gender parity (expressed as the number of girls enrolled in school for every 100 boys) is accepted as the range between 97 and 103, and on average, this has been achieved in the developing world, which had a Gender Parity Index (GPI) score of 97 in 2010, up from 91 in 1999. However, there are certain regions that have not yet achieved parity, especially Western Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, where the GPI was only 93.

In some of the countries that have not yet achieved gender parity, the gap exists right from the beginning, with more boys than girls enrolled on the first day of school. There are even greater barriers at the beginning of secondary education, due to societal gender discrimination, early marriage, fears for the safety of girls attending secondary schools further away from home, and the greater expense of secondary schooling forcing prioritization of household resources, which often favors boys. The GPI for all developing countries in 2010 was 96, and in Sub-Saharan Africa, only 82. Tertiary education has, internationally, achieved parity at a GPI of 98, but again, certain areas lag: Sub-Saharan Africa at 63, Southern Asia at 76, and Western Asia at 89.

Millennium Development Goal 3Poverty remains a significant barrier to gender parity, with lower-income countries enrolling significantly more men in tertiary education, and higher-income countries enrolling more women. Children from the richest households are more than twice as likely to attend secondary school than those from the poorest households. Violence against women is a further factor affecting achievement of parity at all levels.

Equal access to job opportunities is another problem facing significant barriers in certain regions. While this has increased slowly, from a 35% share in paid jobs in 1990 to 40% in 2010, parity in non-agricultural jobs has generally been achieved in the developed world, as well as the Caucuses and Central Asia. Meanwhile, 20% or less of the non-agricultural workforce in Western and Southern Asia and Northern Africa consisted of women. Women still represent only 25% of senior management positions, and still occupy jobs with lower remuneration and in a more limited range of activities than men. Because of this, many women turn to the informal economy, with more than 80% of women working outside agriculture in Mali, Zambia, India, and Madagascar holding informal jobs, and similarly high figures in other developing countries.

Finally, women still lack parliamentary power, accounting for only 19.7% of parliamentary seats worldwide at the end of January 2012. While there is an upward trend—this is a 75% increase from the 11.3% of 1995—progress is slow and uneven, with Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa leading the way in the developing world, and Oceania lagging behind.
A succinct progress report for Millennium Development Goal 3 can be found here.

Foundation Beyond Belief considers Millennium Development Goal 3 in its assessment of all beneficiary categories. Learn more about how our Q2 Poverty and Health beneficiary, One Acre Fund, is playing a role in empowering women to earn an income, reducing poverty and providing for the next generation.

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Millennium Development GoalsBy Cathleen O’Grady

Recently, Foundation Beyond Belief notified members that we would be incorporating the Millennium Development Goals into our charity vetting process. In order to better help our members to get acquainted with these goals, we are rolling out a monthly explanation of the goals, the progress made thus far toward their achievement, and what we, as a global community, have left to achieve in the remaining three years of the plan. Read more about the background of the Millennium Development Goals here. Unless otherwise noted, all information below comes directly from the United Nations.

Millennium Development Goal 2 is to achieve universal primary education, ensuring that by by 2015, boys and girls everywhere will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.

According to the 2012 UN report, this goal has had some success:

  • In 2010, enrolment in primary education in developing regions had reached 90%, up from 82% in 1999.
  • Gender gaps in literacy rates are narrowing, with a ratio of 95:100 literate young women to literate young men in 2010, up from 90:100 in 1999.
  • The gap between genders in the enrolment rate has also narrowed, from a ratio of 91:100 in 1999 to 97:100 in 2010.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, enrollment rates increased from 58% to 76% between 1999 and 2010.
  • In Northern Africa, Eastern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Southeastern Asia, at least 95% of children were in school in 2010.

However, this chart shows that although there has been progress, there is still a great deal of work to be done. 
 
61 million children of primary school age were still not enrolled in school in 2010. Half of these children were in Sub-Saharan Africa, and a further 13 million in Southern Asia. This means that 24% of children in Sub-Saharan Africa and 7% of children in Southern Asia were not in school.

The female share of children not in school has dropped from 58% in 1999 to 53% in 2010, but disparities are higher in certain regions. In Northern Africa, for example, girls accounted for 79% of out-of-school children.
Furthermore, universal education goes beyond simple enrollment and must account for completion. In 2010, the global primary school completion rate reached 90%, compared with 81% in 1999. Again, different regions varied widely, with only 70% of children in Sub-Saharan Africa completing school, and almost 100% in Latin America and the Caribbean, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. Sub-Saharan Africa, along with Western Asia, also lags when it comes to gender disparity in completion of primary school.

Most worryingly for the 2015 goal, nearly all this growth occurred between 1999 and 2004, with progress having slowed considerably since then. A new agenda to continue improving worldwide access to education beyond 2015 is being developed.

With more children completing primary school, there is a growing demand for secondary education. In 2010, 71 million young adolescents (ages 12-15) were out of school. The United Nations Development Program has been instrumental in working toward the development goals for 2015, partnering with people at all levels of society to improve local infrastructure and build self-sustaining nations capable of growth.

A succinct progress report for Millennium Development Goal 2 can be found here.

Foundation Beyond Belief is aligning its Education beneficiaries with Millennium Development Goal 2. Learn more about how our first-quarter Education beneficiary, The Citizens Foundation, is working towards gender equality in education in Pakistan.

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UN Millennium Development GoalsBy Stephanie Jackson Ali

In a recent post, Foundation Beyond Belief notified members that we would be incorporating the Millennium Development Goals into our charity vetting process. In order to better help our members to get acquainted with these goals, we are rolling out a monthly explanation of the goals, the progress made thus far toward their achievement, and what we, as a global community, have left to achieve in the remaining three years of the plan. Read more about the background of the Millennium Development Goals here. Unless otherwise noted, all information below comes directly from the United Nations.

Millennium Development Goal 1 is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. This goal, like many others, was broken down into three separate targets:

1A: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day
1B: Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people
1C: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

The work to achieve this goal was rolled out immediately, as The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and African Development Bank were provided funds by G8 countries to cancel out debt of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries in order to help them focus on development efforts.

Extreme poverty as a proportion of world populationEfforts to reduce poverty and hunger have focused on a wide variety of programs, from investment in local agriculture and job creation to support of other MDGs such as universal education and child and maternal health. The focus of these programs, when done well, is on sustainable change, not direct aid, in order to build a future of success for these countries and their people.

The World Bank has been a very active partner in achieving this goal, including $89 billion in support to low- and middle-income countries from July 2008 to January 2010.

The chart to the left shows the decline in extreme poverty rates worldwide since 1980. While the recent global food and economic crises have considerably slowed progress, with less than two years to go, the world is on track to meet this first goal. In a 25-year period, the poverty rate in East Asia fell from almost 60 percent to less than 20 percent. However, the rate declined only slightly in sub-Saharan Africa in that time, from 58 to 51 percent. If the world continues its current rate, by 2015, roughly 920 million people would still be living under the international poverty line of $1.25/day.

A graph comparing the proportion of people living on less than US$1.25 a day in 1990 and 2005Gains in hunger reduction have been slower. One in four children in the developing world is considered underweight. At the beginning of the MDG period, the number was one in three. Children in rural areas are twice as likely to be underweight as urban dwellers. Overall, the proportion of people suffering from hunger is down since 1990, but the total number of hungry people is up.

There is much progress to be made if we want to reach these goals by 2015, and to ensure we continue to work to improve even after that date. FBB has a strong history of supporting poverty- and hunger-reducing charities, and we will seek to find those working to best continue a sustainable plan for reduction in the future.

For more reading on the subject of global development and poverty eradication, try these books (these selections cover a myriad of belief systems and include representation from those who have worked on the ground and/or those who come from the countries most affected):

  • Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa by Dambisa Moyo
  • The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time by Jeffrey Sachs
  • Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty by Abhijit Banerjee and Ester Duflo
  • The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier
  • Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen

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Millennium Development Goals Starting this year, the members of Foundation Beyond Belief will be hearing a good deal about the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG). 

Established in 2000, MDG is an ambitious international program with a goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2015. The program includes a very specific set of targets and benchmarks, and all 193 UN member states have committed to meeting them.

In the final three years of the timeline, FBB plans to articulate a strong and consistent humanist voice in alignment with the vision of MDG. In addition to educating our members and the humanist community as a whole about MDG, we will be using the eight goals to help guide our beneficiary selections.

The Millennium Development Goals are:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. Achieve universal primary education
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women
  4. Reduce child mortality
  5. Improve maternal health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability
  8. Develop a global partnership for ongoing development

Beginning in March, Foundation Beyond Belief will create a monthly rollout of the UN Millennium Development Goals to educate our members and the humanist community at large about the program.

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