Finding True Power for Women and Girls: The UN Goals’ Toughest Task

Challenged by the staggering agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to abolish most of the world’s ills within 15 years, research organizations, advocacy groups and objective demographers had begun to do the math well before the goals were adopted globally in September 2015. Success or failure rests on complex equations with interlinked or competing … Read more

Can the UN’s SDGs Live Up to the Hype?

When the United Nations’ member states gave final approval at a special General Assembly session on Sept. 25 to the new global development policy, they were making a commitment to the most wide-ranging and ambitious plan ever attempted by the organization. Now the hard part begins as experts struggle to decide how to measure the … Read more

The General Assembly Blesses a New Set of Universal Development Goals

A schoolgirl in northern Nigeria

For some time, it seemed that United Nations debates over a new set of 15-year global development goals would last nearly as long as the goals themselves. But nearly three years of formal, informal and “informal informal” negotiations finally came to a close on Aug. 2, with agreement by General Assembly consensus on this hugely … Read more

Freed From Extreme Poverty, but Left Out of the Middle Class

When the final assessment of what the Millennium Development Goals achieved was released on July 6, the United Nations said confidently that more than 1 billion people had been lifted from poverty since 1990, the baseline year for setting the goals, which were then monitored from 2000 to 2015. But where did these poor people … Read more

2015: A Year of Potential Landmarks for the UN

By almost every measure, this year will be monumental for the United Nations. The organization will be 70 years old and that will inspire, as anniversaries always do, a lot of stocktaking, analysis and, of course, criticism. Past stumbles will get attention and an army of  “reformers” will offer prescriptions for the future. In 2015, … Read more

In 2014, a Year of Catastrophes, Women Still Made Some Gains

Amid the horrors that women and girls have suffered around the world in 2014 — including being forced to flee their homes by the hundreds of thousands in Syria, the sexual enslavement of Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and the kidnapping and forced conversion to radical Islam of girls from schools in northern Nigeria — … Read more

Can Good Governance Become a Global Development Goal?

British Prime Minister David Cameron had two clear messages when he spoke at a post-2015 global development goals forum on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly last month. The first was his emphatic view that the General Assembly panel’s proposal for 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 169 associated “targets” was too unwieldy and … Read more

For Journalists Covering Climate Change, the Topic Goes Beyond Science

NEW ORLEANS — In this urban symbol of disaster unpreparedness, journalists who cover climate change and the environment gathered this month, almost exactly nine years after Hurricane Katrina tore this city apart, to swap stories and advice while brainstorming communally on their beat. In a world that is ever more intertwined, it was clear to … Read more

How Is the UN’s Development Machinery Perceived? Does Anyone Care?

One year ago, the report of a high-level panel of world leaders and renowned development specialists proposed 12 goals and 50 indicators for the United Nation’s post-2015 agenda. These were already unwieldy numbers, but after a year and a half of juggling and negotiations, member states in New York on the Open Working Group (OWG) … Read more

Human Development That Sidetracks a Woman’s Power of Choice

The 2014 United Nations Human Development Report appeared at the end of July wrapped around the title “Sustaining Human Progress,” a goal that moves beyond meeting the targets that can measure achievement at any given time but cannot promise continuity or permanent improvement. The report’s subtitle, “Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience,” suggests how to plan … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Will Women’s Reproductive Rights Be Dropped in the Post-2015 Agenda? 

The United Nations’ post-2015 development agenda is the next phase of the Millennium Development Goals, which provided a 15-year road map to tackle poverty and foster development in the world’s poorest countries. But as putting together the new agenda moves forward, it is becoming clear that the critical needs of women may be pushed aside. … Read more

An Italian Priest and a US Health Group Win the 2014 UN Population Prize

Putting a new focus on maternal health and obstetric fistula in particular, which devastates the lives of women and girls in many poor countries, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has given its 2014 UN Population Award to an Italian doctor working in Mozambique and to an American maternal and child health organization with programs … Read more

To End Deep Inequalities, Say Doyle and Stiglitz, Create a Ninth Development Goal

A girl holds an umbrella near the port in Guinea-Bissau's capital Bissau

Two leading international policy experts at Columbia University are calling for more action from individual governments to address inequalities within their borders, in effect adding a bold new goal to the eight measurements of progress reflected in the Millennium Development Goals. Their proposal comes as debate swirls around what the United Nations needs to do … Read more

Putting Women and Girls at the Center of the Future Development Goals

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, chief of UN Women

What happened at the annual United Nations women’s conference this year? Over 10 days of both mercifully brief and far-too-long speeches by policy people, government ministers, UN staff members and a wide array of other experts, the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women ended on a hush. It was as if everyone … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Women Must Have Control Over Their Own Bodies

Women in Sri Lanka

Earlier this year France was the latest to join a handful of progressive countries to expand access to reproductive health services — with its National Assembly amending the country’s laws to affirm a woman’s right to an abortion through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and criminalize attempts to obstruct this right. What is refreshing … Read more

The UN Has Lost the Aid-Effectiveness Race: What Is to Be Done?

A UN-supported market in Lebanon.

Recent events have confirmed that the United Nations has a deep reservoir of good will worldwide. But its reputation is undermined by the ineffectiveness of its development assistance. UN agencies could improve their performance by implementing effective evaluations. However, the UN cannot be judged solely on the basis of its development assistance because the organization … Read more

The US Backs the UN on Women’s Rights and Family Planning

Ethiopian sheep farmers

  Speaking in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the third international conference on family planning, Anne C. Richard, the United States Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, urged strong support for United Nations efforts to promote  the rights of women and girls, including universal access to family planning, as the organization frames new development … Read more

Bangladeshi Pioneer Invests in Women From the ‘Ultra-Poor’

Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of BRAC

Fazle Hasan Abed runs the world’s largest nongovernmental development organization. He has garnered numerous international prizes, honorary degrees, very important friends and a British knighthood. Yet in the United States, Abed’s successes, won through a creative self-help program centered on mothers and their families, are virtually unknown. So here is his story, and BRAC‘s. The … Read more

The Times Picks a UN Bureau Chief as Syria Arms Destruction Begins

OPCW team arriving in Damascus 1-10-13

The New York Times has assigned Somini Sengupta to be its new full-time bureau chief at the United Nations. Sengupta replaces Neil MacFarquhar, who left the position this summer after five years and will be based in Moscow for the newspaper. The announcement regarding Sengupta has not been formally made yet by the paper because she … Read more

Where’s the Money? Funds for Millennium Development Goals Lag

Garbage dump in Bamako, Mali

With 827 days to go until the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals — the United Nations’ flagship agenda for global development — the buzzword at the General Assembly’s annual opening debate in New York this week was “acceleration.” A clear sense of urgency dominated many talks, particularly as the world body prepares to draw … Read more

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