The United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Summit started today, so we are taking the opportunity for a closer look at each MDG and how MADRE and our sister organizations work towards the future envisioned in these goals.
So what are the MDGs? They were drafted by the United Nations in 2000. They consist of eight goals to be achieved by 2015 that target poverty, education, gender equality, child mortality, maternal health, disease, environmental sustainability, and global partnership.
Millennium Development Goal 1 is to Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger. More specifically, it aims to halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day; to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people; and halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
Poverty affects a person's access to education and healthcare, a woman's freedom from violence and gender inequality, a person's risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other infectious diseases, and a plethora of other human rights. Clearly, eradicating poverty is a necessary goal. However, the technical MDG measure of poverty as living below $1 a day fails to account for the experience of millions of people, for whom poverty is not primarily defined by income. Indigenous Peoples have for generations grappled with a lack of control over their natural resources and lands. And women workers have fought against the denial of labor rights such as decent wages and working conditions. For many, the reality of poverty is manifested in different ways, and their perspectives must not be ignored.
MADRE's work in Sudan does not focus on number-bound indicators of poverty. Rather, we work with Sudanese women farmers, who are the central figures in alleviating hunger and improving economic standing for their communities. The project, Women Farmers Unite, organized in partnership with our sister organization, Zenab for Women in Development, provides women farmers with the tools, resources, and technical assistance needed to sustain their families for the long haul.
As a result of MADRE and Zenab's work in Sudan, growth and production of crops is increased, thereby alleviating hunger, improving nutrition and health, and boosting the economic status of the women farmers themselves. In turn, women use their increased income to send their children to school, invest in local development projects, and enhance their decision-making power within their communities. Women do more than increase their daily income -- they build a foundation from which their community can grow and thrive.