Millennium Development Goals (again)


There are news articles everywhere saying we’ve met the MDG target for access to clean, drinkable water and technically we have. We have halved the percent of population without access to clean water, with 2 billion additional people having access. But are we done yet?

While it is incredible that 89% of the population has access to clean, drinkable water (comparable to 76% in 1990), that means that 11% of the population is still forced to drink unsafe, unclean water every single day, 40% of which is in Sub-Saharan Africa. So are we done yet? Absolutely not, but at least progress is being made.

On another note, lets take a peak at the goal for maternal mortality.

Under this goal the UN is hoping to reduce maternal mortality by three quarters and ensure universal access to reproductive health. Now it is often said that these two indicators are often the best clue into the status of women’s rights and gender equality in a particular country. Some progress has been made, but this goal has seen the least progress and in many cases the least effort.

While nations around the world are making significant efforts to improve women’s rights, access to reproductive health (contraception, information, and abortion), increasing access to trained professionals prior to, during, and after birth, and increasing education and knowledge in general, we have countries closer to home where access to reproductive health (contraception, information, and abortion) is still considered fair game for public debate.

From 1998-2010 the USA actually regressed in terms of their maternal mortality rate showing an increase of twenty-five percent in a twelve-year period. Its appalling that such a thing can happen in a nation with health care readily available, and it demonstrates that gender equality and women’s health was not at the forefront of the nation’s agenda.

In Canada, we have the pesky little issue of abortion. Abortion is legal (huge win for women’s rights), but not available throughout the entire nation where some provinces and regions do not have the tools or facilities to perform abortions forcing Canadians to travel huge distances to seek out medical care. This drastically increases the cost, and decreases the availability of such reproductive health to girls and women who may not be able to travel and/or live in rural regions. Even more appalling is that we still have elected officials who are trying to make abortion illegal-may I add that I have yet to ever hear or see a female MP in Canada try to overturn our current abortion law? An MP from Kitchener has been trying to bring the abortion debate back into parliament since Christmas of 2011.

Does that mean that women’s rights are regressing? Maybe, but with absolute certainty it means that every nations must make a firm commitment to improve women’s rights, health, and access.

To check out international progress on the MDG’s go here.


14 responses

  1. Pingback: Millennium Development Goals (again) | finding development - millenium-development-goals

  2. Pingback: 19th Annual World Water Day « Dear World,

  3. The way I’ve understood the Canadian law is that abortion is neither officially legal nor illegal, and falls into a grey area that policy makers for decades have just wanted to stay out of (until recently, as you point out). What does this say about the state of development in North America when these rights are still being challenged? It is completely senseless. What worries me most is that some women are determined to end a pregnancy, and if they don’t have the resources to do so safely, they may turn to an unsafe, harmful alternatives. I believe that those who oppose reproductive health rights are acting truly out of ideological viewpoints and have no rational basis in their points at all. Unfortunately, I have known women who also oppose these rights. Sad to see that people let this cloud their judgement and that women’s lives and livelihoods are put at risk because of it.

    • Exactly.. What I’ve never understood is why oppose pro-choice? It’s not FORCING anyone to have an abortion or terminate pregnancy or go on birth control or use condoms. It’s just giving them the right to do so, and giving them the availability.

  4. Great post Steph!

    Adding to the water issue – they have completely ignored the the other half of that goal: sanitation. As per the UN’s own report (, half the population in developing countries are still lacking basic sanitation. Heather blogged about this particular MDG, you should read it!

    And I completely agree what is going on the world and here in Canada. It’s disgusting that there are politicians trying to take away women’s rights. I also find it appalling how women even on this campus have been treated. It’s so sad that we don’t have to look far to find people that want women put down. I think that it’s important for us to address women’s rights both here and abroad. Unfortunately, I don’t know how one can convince the powerhouse country, US, to support this MDG when they are successfully limiting women’s access to birth control all across the country.

    • I’ll have to check her post out. I find the sanitation part terrifying, absolutely terrifying. Its necessary for health, cooking, everything basically, so I couldn’t imagine doing without.
      I’m absolutely apalled at how women on campus have been treated, also at how few women are in administrative and tenure positions. It says a lot of professional culture in Canada.
      There was an article about Arizona yesterday, stating on how they were passing a state law that would allow businesses to fire women on birth control if the company felt it went against their beliefs. That’s denying women access to reproductive health, denying women access to the same level of health insurance as men, AND denying women access to fair work. I’ll be doing a follow up post.

      • I actually had a chance to sit down with a volunteer from the women’s centre to get the facts in order – when I was listening to her, I couldn’t even believe what had happened in 2012 on a Canadian university campus.

        And the Arizona thing is CRAZY! I saw a talk-show about it. They can ask for proof that her birth control is for a disorder and not for, you know, birth control. It’s so utterly ridiculous.

        But since the States has their own set of problems, what do you think that we can do to improve equality on campus?

        • I think that the university admin needs to step up and apologize. I think that women can refuse to attend and pay for classes until that happens. I think we could refuse to use services at the SLC and demand a FEDS refund.. I think we need to force it. The BEST way would be to somehow get word out to potential undergrads, but tell the university we’re doing it first.. Sort of force a response..

  5. Ive also noticed the fact that men seem to be often times the only ones pushing for pro-life. The last three pro-life rallies ive run into in Montreal had zero (0) women in them, a fact that I was all too eager to point out to them. They seemed to have prepared their rebuttles in advance, and none of them satisfied me in the least bit. I was surprised actually how upset I got. Im not sure exactly how I feel about abortion, but Im definatly pro-choice. Theres just so many variables to factor into the equation, it cant be a decision made my anybody else but THAT individual, and it’s hard for me to understand how you could be so against it. Also to point out a fact, that the very same pro-lifers seem simultaneously to be also pro-death penalty. This hypocrisy ENRAGES me.
    …A woman’s body, a woman’s choice, right? But what do you think about this new argument ive been seeing in the media, about men fighting for their “rights” to the unborn child, saying that if they want the baby, that they should have a say in the matter. Do you think they should have their say too? And if so, how far should that say go? I read somewhere that a court decided to force a woman to carry her baby to term because of this, but im not sure how truthful that story was.

    • I think the couple should be able to sit down and have a conversation to it. I think the woman should listen to him, but she should still have the final say, and he should never be able to pressure her, coerce her, or try to convince her otherwise. I don’t think that its a decision that the courts have a right to be a part of. I can understand that some men might want children, but then they need to tell the woman they are with about it well in advance and she has to be able to choose and he also has to use protection if she wants him to. It’s not one of those things that can be up for debate.

  6. I had no idea about the MP trying to overturn the abortion law! I think this may say a bit more about Canadians (lack of) involvement in the political realm more than the status of women’s rights. I was clueless of the above occurrence because of my limited knowledge and awareness of all things related to the political domain (oops) but, now that I know, I’d definitely like to take action. Maybe a good first step is raising awareness and bringing light to these issues? I think your blog post does just that; great work!

    • Thanks! I think it’s sad that our involvement and education is lacking, but especially our political involvement we only had around 70% voter turnout for the last federal election.
      Thanks for reading!

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