Towards MDGs, 2015: Gains & Gaps


Women's Features Service (WFS), in association with the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC), brings you themes from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These stories from the Indian heartland will cover issues of poverty alleviation and livelihoods; school education and exclusion of marginalised groups; gender empowerment and water stress; child mortality and maternal health, among other concerns.


USA
This Can't Be The End of The Road To The MDGs
By Sandhya Venkateswaran

The Millennium Development Goals

The two-day UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that began in New York on September 20 marked a full decade since the countries of the world had committed themselves to the MDGs. The intervening years had seen a great deal of activism and energy; witnessed many commitments, plans and negotiations. It was now time for stock-taking - time to look at the world's poor in the eye and assess if the promises made in their name had been upheld. Civil society groups gathered in New York were hoping that an honest effort would be made at the Summit to see how the world might get back on track with respect to the goals. But they were to be disappointed. An exclusive report from New York.

* Women's groups felt that the outcome document did not outline any mechanism for the implementation of gender justice. Thus even where some governments, such as the Norwegian government, were vocal about the need for gender equality, there was little bite in the bark.


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India
Time To Stand Up For The Millennium Development Goals
By Pamela Philipose

The Millennium Development Goals

For the next few weeks, the focus will shift to what is perhaps the world's most ambitious intervention for social development: The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As world leaders meet for a global summit that will review progress on these goals, groups all over India will do their bit to put crucial issues on the front burner through the 'Stand Up Take Action/Make Noise For The MDGs' campaign, to be flagged off by 100 musicians performing for the MDGs at Delhi's Purana Qila. The idea of the campaign is to mobilise ordinary people everywhere to hold the government accountable for the promises it has made on achieving the MDGs before the deadline year of 2015. It also underlines the fact that there is so much to be done and so little time, with regard to some of the life-and-death issues of our age, whether it is ensuring freedom from hunger or saving children from certain death.

* 'The 18th is Make Noise Day and the noise we are making is on the need to universalise the public distribution system. On the 18th, our members across the country plan to march to Raj Bhavans and collectorates, to submit a memorandum on the right to food.'


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India
How Vijaypura's Single Women Got Their Rations
By Mamta Jaitly

Goal 1 -poverty and hunger - cut by half the number of people who live on less than $1US per day and who suffer from hunger

Kalu Ram won the elections to the Vijaypura panchayat in Rajasthan's Rajsamand district with just Rs 695. The election slogan? "Na daru, na murga, na lenge hum note, imandari se denge vote (No alcohol, no chicken, we won't take notes, with honesty we'll cast our votes)." Once he was elected the real work began: Women were mobilised and reforms of the public distribution system in Vijaypura were mounted on a war-footing. Kalu encouraged people to use the Right to Information (RTI) Act against the local ration dealers if they did not get their entitlements on time. As a result, many single women living in extreme penury have begun receiving the benefits due to them under the government's social security schemes, something that had evaded them for years. Today, Vijaypura panchayat has emerged as a model of how India can work towards achieving its targets under UN Millenium Development Goal 1 - pulling people out of the clutches of poverty and halving the number suffering from hunger.

* "For some time now my name is on the BPL (Below Poverty Line) list. I get 25 kilos of wheat a month."


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India
Baby, Please Don't Die: Manisha As Icon
By Swapna Majumdar

Goal 4 - infants - cut back by two-thirds the number of children who die before they reach the age of 5

If Manisha Kalindi did not have the good fortune to receive the attention of a local anganwadi worker, hers would have been one more name in the long list of newborn deaths in Pathergora village in Jharkhand. Considering that close to 50 per cent of newborn deaths in India occur during the first seven days of birth, two-year-old Manisha is not only lucky to be alive, but her chances of growing normally are bright. This is thanks to the integrated management of neonatal and childhood illness (IMNCI), a new approach that could help India get a little closer to its Millennium Development Goal of reducing by two-thirds its under-five mortality rate. In Jharkhand, which has a neonatal mortality rate of 49 per 1000 live births, IMNCI - under which auxiliary nurse midwives and anganwadi workers undertake home visits to promote best practices for infant care - is making all the difference between life and death, especially for newborns.

* "Breastfeeding was not considered crucial for a newborn. Women would wait until religious ceremonies were conducted before breastfeeding their babies. They didn't realise this could have fatal consequences."


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India
Working For Change By Giving Jashmabai Employment
By Rahul Banerjee

Goal 1 - poverty and hunger - cut by half the number of people who live on less than $1US per day and who suffer from hunger

Jashmabai from the Bhilala tribal community is working under the punishing sun on an earthen dam in her village of Darkali, in Madhya Pradesh's Alirajpur district, being built under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Given high levels of crime and alcoholism in this poverty stricken, drought-prone region, it is the women who often pick up the pieces and keep families fed. The employment provided under the MGNREGA is, therefore, nothing short of a lifeline them. According to the new multi-dimensional Poverty Index of the UNDP, 55 per cent of India's population is poor and they number about 645 million. The success of the MGNREGA is crucial if India is to achieve the key Millennium Development Goal of halving, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of its people living in extreme poverty. Civil society organisations on the ground are now focusing on this.

* 'This scheme allows women to apply for work in a group of their own and then the payments are made directly into their bank accounts. With one stroke women get the work they want. This gives them a tremendous sense of power.'


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India
Sense and Sanitation: A UP Village Pitches For Change
By Anjali Singh

Goal 3 - Promote gender equality and empower women. Girls - ensure that as many girls as boys go to school
Goal 7 - environment - cut in half the number of people who lack clean water, improve the lives of people who live in slums and promote policies that respect the environment

It could be any one of the thousands of sleepy villages that dot the rough rural outback of Uttar Pradesh, India's largest state. But Shahpur Jot in Baraich district is by no means conventional, and it has a President's Award to prove this. In 2006, Shahpur Jot achieved total sanitation coverage. How did the poor, predominantly Muslim, village manage this? After all, according to Government of India projections, the country is unlikely to achieve its Millennium Development Goal of halving, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to basic sanitation. Shahpur Jot got it right after its women decided to come out of their homes and take ownership of the village's development agenda, even pressurising their own family members to construct toilets.

* "The women gave me full support and joined in the campaign, even giving up the 'purdah' while they worked."


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India
Voices That Link People With Policy
By Pamela Philipose

Goal 1 - poverty and hunger - cut by half the number of people who live on less than $1US per day and who suffer from hunger

As the global community prepares to review its progress on the UN Millennium Development Goals in September, social activists in India share their experiences of ushering in change and making policy-makers accountable. Their rainbow of interventions involve capturing people's realities on the ground, flagging key concerns for civil society and working to transform government policies and programmes on issues that range from food security and guaranteed employment to forest rights and health delivery.

* "The first Manmohan Singh government, that came to power in 2004, was more responsive to people's issues than the present one. Now we are pinning our hopes on the newly-constituted National Advisory Council chaired by Congress President Sonia Gandhi."


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India
Water-rich Bihar's Endless Search For Safe Water
By Bula Devi

Goal 7 - environment - cut in half the number of people who lack clean water.

Safe drinking water is an important Millennium Development Goal and in the state of Bihar - blessed with innumerable rivers - it has proved to be a huge concern. The evidence from the ground is compelling. Anita Devi of Maner in Patna district, Bihar, died from exposure to arsenic found in the groundwater of the region. Shankar Yadav of Tilathi village in Saharsa is worried about his children's health because of the presence of iron in local water sources. On the banks of the Kosi, children bathe in the same water as the buffaloes and there is no sanitation to speak of. Rural Bihar is paying a high price for the lack of clean water in terms of disease and death. But there are innovative responses to the looming crisis, which need to be noted and replicated.

* 'The traditional dugwell system is the best. Two or three dugwells have already been constructed and our target is to complete at least 10 dugwells within a timeframe.'


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India
Saving Mothers In India's Heartland
By Subhadra Khaperde

Goal 5 - mothers - cut back by three-quarters the number of women who die when they are having babies

According to a recent UN estimate, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) in South Asia continues to be among the highest in the world, next only to sub-Saharan Africa. If this has to change, India would have to do better, and for India to do better a large state like Madhya Pradesh (MP) would have to drastically bring down its MMR, currently estimated at 335 deaths per 100,000 live births. Two initiatives in MP - one that focuses on information sharing and the other on expertise building - could be important pointers to the way forward in this central Indian state that has long neglected its expectant mothers.

* "The government thinks it can solve the problem by promoting institutional deliveries. But what the poor mothers of Madhya Pradesh need is assistance at the local level and general health care."


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India
Laxmi's Story and Orissa's Baby Blues
By Manipadma Jena

Goal 4 - infants - cut back by two-thirds the number of children who die before they reach the age of 5

In her ninth month of pregnancy, Laxmi Bhatra from Orissa's Anchala village in Kosagumuda block of Nawrangpur district suddenly felt very uneasy. On seeing his wife's condition, Kamlochan, a landless worker, got on to his bicycle, tied a hapless Laxmi loosely to him and peddled 15 kilometres to a six-bed health facility in the block. When he got there, the doctor gave her medication and sent her home. Laxmi delivered a stillborn child soon after, and died a week later. Laxmi's story is so common in a state with one of the highest levels of infant mortality in India - 71 deaths per 1000 live births - that it hardly figures as the tragedy it is. Yet, Laxmi's story needs to be understood if India has to come closer to achieving its Millennium Development Goal of reducing by two-thirds its under-five mortality rate.

* 'In Nawrangpur, which has one of the highest IMR levels in Orissa, women nearing their delivery date have to sometimes travel 70 kilometres to the district hospital through terrain that can be crossed only on foot and could even entail crossing rivers. There exists no other mode of transport.'


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India
Education For All: Orai's Race To The Classroom
By Kulsum Mustafa

MDG 2- Education: Make sure that all children start and finish
primary school

Orai, the nondescript headquarters of Jalaun district, Uttar Pradesh - one of India's poorest states - has an amazing story to tell the world. Despite the rampant poverty and discriminative social practices prevalent here, it is working hard towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal Two: Universal primary education. And all this thanks to the efforts of a 21-year-old Dalit student and his dedicated team of young women and men. From organising rallies to promote education, to providing Right To Education cards, to writing inspiring slogans on village walls, they have left no stone unturned to increase school enrolment in Orai, especially among the poorest communities.

* "Pattipura village in Jalaun has a 100 per cent Dalit population. None of the girls there were going to school. So we spent more time here stressing on the importance of girls' education."


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India
Millennium Development Goals: Will India Catch The Bus?
By Pamela Philipose

The year 2010 marks a full decade since 192 countries of the world, including India, set eight developmental goals for themselves and pledged to achieve them by 2015. How well is India placed to keep its date with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)? A recent Government of India report presented a mixed picture, while civil society organisations and activists are emphatically urging for more concerted, holistic and urgent action, especially in the country's heartland states.

* As Siba Sankar Mohanty, National Campaign Coordinator, Wada Na Todo Abhiyan, puts it, "What India needs today is a real big push in terms of creating adequate social overhead capital. The more we wait, the more difficult it will be to achieve the MDGs."


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The Millennium Development Goals

The MDGs were formulated in 2000 at the United Nations Millennium Summit as a response to the world's main development challenges. 192 member states of the United Nations, including India, committed themselves to achieving eight goals by 2015.

The Eight Goals Summarised

  • Goal 1 - poverty and hunger - cut by half the number of people who live on less than $1US per day and who suffer from hunger
  • Goal 2 - education - make sure that all children start and finish primary school
  • Goal 3 - Promote gender equality and empower women. Girls - ensure that as many girls as boys go to school
  • Goal 4 - infants - cut back by two-thirds the number of children who die before they reach the age of 5
  • Goal 5 - mothers - cut back by three-quarters the number of women who die when they are having babies
  • Goal 6 - disease - stop diseases like HIV and AIDS, Malaria, TB from spreading further
  • Goal 7 - environment - cut in half the number of people who lack clean water, improve the lives of people who live in slums and promote policies that respect the environment
  • Goal 8 - global partnership - promote greater cooperation among all nations with special concern for fairer deals for poor countries in trade, aid, debt, new technologies, etc.











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