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For more than a decade now, one of the centerpieces of socio-economic development, and foreign aid has been the effort to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs have been an influential framework for global development cooperation, not only in shaping the international discourse, but in driving the allocation of resources towards key global development priorities. They have proved to be a useful communication tool because their established time bound and concrete targets are meant to galvanise political leaders, civil society organizations, media and international organizations around a clearly defined agenda intended to improve human development. Despite the attention given, its dynamism in national policies, the enormous technical and financial energy expended towards the attainment of the MDGs, many countries and Nigeria is reported to be “off-track” (MDGR Nigeria, 2010). The thrust of this study therefore has been a critical interrogation of where some of those gaps emanate from. The thesis argues that gender equality and the empowerment of women as contained in MDG 3, is at the core of all MDGs, ranging from improving health and fighting disease to reducing poverty and mitigating hunger, expanding education and lowering child mortality, increasing access to safe water and ensuring environmental sustainability. It reiterates that gender is an essential ingredient for the successful achievement of all MDGs. These arguments have been outlined in the review of literature in chapter two and in the methodology chapter which adopted a content analysis of the issues in the report. The discussion chapter offers the researcher‟s thoughts. The study concludes that implementation of development projects, and the narration of the processes and impacts should pay attention to gender for purposes of inclusion and equity. As such, the study provides gender dimensions of each MDG reporting and highlights the need to make available adequate resources at all levels; and to address inequitable global economic policies, as well as gaps between rich and poor countries. The study provides arguments, key findings and learning relevant to the achievement of MDGs from the standpoint of gender equality; and argues extensively that gender inequality is more pervasive than other forms of inequality and is a feature of social relations in most societies. Consequently, the researcher argues that understanding the causes and consequences of gender inequality should concern and inform all societies.



1.1       Background to the Study

The shift in development thinking and practice towards a more people-centered programs and

the need for participation of people in decision-making concerning their lives is creating new

opportunities for social change (Kabeer, 2003). The empowerment of men and women, gender

analysis, equity, social factors, holistic approaches and respect for indigenous knowledge are

becoming elements of many development programs. At the heart of this change is

communication. Communication is fundamental to the achievement of meaningful

development in our world today; it is through communication process that people can become

aware of their need for development and further help them make informed decisions on issues

that matters to them.

Most major issues on the development agenda (e.g. gender equality) in the last decades still

remain as challenges facing the world in the new millennium, and are addressed in the eight

MDGs adopted by the UN in 2000 Panos (2006). These reflect the multi-dimensional aspects

of poverty and the needs of the poorest and traditionally marginalized groups. The UN World

Summit of 2005 reaffirmed gender equality as a development goal itself (MDG 3) and

underlines its importance as a means to realize all of the other MDGs. But despite efforts by

the UN to mainstream gender in their development intervention works, discrimination against

women and the girl-child remains the most pervasive and persistent impediment to

development today. (UNDP, 2010). It has been estimated by the UN that the world‟s poorest

people are women and girls; less than16% of the world‟s parliamentarians are women, two-


thirds of children shut outside the school gate are girls. In Nigeria, for instance, although the

2006 National population census, reveals that women make up 48.78 % (about half) of the

total population, only a small number of women have achieved prominence in modern

political and government spheres (NBS, 2006). Several reasons have been adduced for the

present imbalance position of women in Nigerian society today. The reasons include

colonization, past independence history dominated by military rule, patrilineal system, non-

literacy which relegates women to the background (Eze, 2009). This indicates that gender

disparity is affecting women‟s role in meaningful development since most of their roles are

domestic in nature (Agbola, 1996). Again, it can be argued that these issues of inequality are

identified by the men, as men are more socially, culturally, economically, educationally

positioned in the society. While this issue is raised from the “man” perspective, the solution

proffered would usually be a “man” solution and this is further underpinned by the patriarchal

nature of societies and the world. The woman and the girl-child suffer exclusion and are kept

silent by the social structures, aged long harmful traditional practices and the persisting

traditional gender stereotypes. It is only through communication that people can become

aware of the negative effects of such practices and beliefs, their perceptions and judgments

would come under influence and they would begin to see the need to adapt new ways of

thinking and thus, life.

In most developing countries, gender inequality is a major obstacle to meeting the MDG

targets (UNDP, 2005). In fact, achieving the goals will be impossible without closing the gaps

between women and men in terms of capacities, access to resources and opportunities, and

vulnerability to violence and conflict. Millennium Development Goal 3 is „to promote gender

equality and empower women‟. The goal has one target: „to eliminate gender disparity in


primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005 and to all levels of education no later

than 2015‟. Four indicators are used to measure progress towards the goal: the ratio of girls to

boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education; the ratio of literate women to men in the

15-to 24-year-old age group; the share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural

sector; and the proportion of seats held by wom

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