Needs a Muti-Sectoral Approach
State of the World Report 2004
2000 marked a milestone for the development community. It was
the year in which various United Nations Organisations set up
a list of goals targeted for 2015. Better known as the Millennium
Development Goals (MDG), they focus on a more “human-rights
based, multisectoral approach towards development,” as Carol
Bellamy says, (The State of the World's Children 2004, UNICEF).
This “multisectoral approach” incorporates possible solutions
to fundamental problems pertaining to developing countries.
address the following developmental issues : eradication of
extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education,
promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child
mortality, improve maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria
and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and
creating a global partnership for development.
UNICEF's Report (The State of the World's Children, 2004) highlights
two of these goals in particular -- the achievement of universal
education and the promotion of gender equality. The 2004 Annual
Report focuses on these goals and the issues surrounding them.
It also contains information on strategies, programmes and initiatives
developed by UNICEF and its development partners to meet the
challenge of gender disparity in education thus improving the
lives of children and families. Since girls' education has been
found to be beneficial to maternal and child health, early childhood
care, nutrition, water and sanitation, the reduction of child
labour and the overall status of a woman affecting the peaceful
resolution of social conflicts, the Report identifies girls'
education as one of the most crucial issues facing the international
development community and calls for action on behalf of the
121 million out-of school children around the world of whom
65 million are girls.
aim is to reach gender equality through promoting girls' primary
and secondary education by the year 2005. To help create an
environment where education for girls is not considered “a luxury,
but a human right”, the former being true of many developing
countries, UNICEF seeks to make girls less vulnerable to societal
problems. The strategy for achieving this objective is to help
each girl achieve her potential by increasing her confidence,
social skills, knowledge on health related issues and providing
her with training to protect her from violence and ill health.
In the last
two decades the major efforts of most development agencies have
centred on economic growth. This was based on the concept that
economic development would automatically have a positive impact
on social and human welfare. Consequently, issues such as girls'
education have not been a priority for the development community.
However, the lessons of experience have shown that economic
growth and social development have both to be pursued independently
to achieve holistic results and maximize the benefits of development
programmes. According to the Report, girls' education will have
a multiplier effect on other facets of development; for example,
by helping the growth of the economy by increasing participation
of women, continued education for the next generation, healthier
families, lower population growth rate, a decrease in maternal
and child mortality etc. Hence, the investment on girls' education
adds value to other social development sectors by reducing the
strain on public health costs, improving the nutritional levels
of infants and children, enhancing awareness on social issues
like the exploitation of women and sexual abuse, which in turn
increases social cohesion by making women more capable of resolving
social and family conflicts.
In the Report
UNICEF suggests that leaders of developing countries take the
following steps: include girls' education as priority in development
programmes, take steps not to impose any school fees, making
education free and universal, implement education policies into
national policies such as poverty reduction, create a community
environment in schools, increase national funding for education,
and apply strategies associated with economic growth into social
taking the first few steps towards this new developmental technique
by implementing the “25 by 2005 plan”, which strives to speed
up the process of reaching the Millennium Development Goals
by 2015. The programme focuses on the development of twenty
five countries in particular: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Benin,
Bhutan, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad,
Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea,
India, Malawi, Mali, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papa New Guinea,
Sudan, Turkey, United Republic of Tanzania, Yemen and Zambia
and will help accelerate efforts to eliminate gender disparities
in primary and secondary education in these countries. The countries
were identified on the basis of need.
It is expected
that UNICEF's human rights based, multi sectoral approach will
help steer these countries achieve gender parity in education
by 2005, which will then bring the development community closer
to reaching their Millennium Development Goals, thus bringing
the world a step closer to being safer and more problem-free
for its future generations.