There was only one target under millennium development goal 3:
- To eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005, and in all levels of education by 2015.
Some of the achievements of MDG 3 include:
- An increase in the number of girls in school in 2015 compared to 2000. The developing world as a whole has achieved the goal of eliminating gender disparity in all levels of education, including primary, secondary, and tertiary.
- In Southern Asia, the number of girls enrolled in primary school was 74 for every 100 boys in 1990. By 2015, there were 103 girls enrolled for every 100 boys.
- The proportion of women in vulnerable employment compared to total female employment has reduced by 13 percent in the period between 1991 and 2015, compared to a 9 percent decrease for men.
- Significant gains in women’s parliamentary representation in nearly 90 percent of 174 countries for which data has been available in the past two decades. At the very least, the average proportion of women in parliament has increased by nearly 100 percent during the last 20 years, yet this still translates to one woman for every five men.
Eliminating gender disparity in all levels of education
Educating girls and women has a positive multiplier effect on progress across virtually all development areas. The MDG campaign has been driven by both national and international efforts, resulting in a considerably larger number of girl-child enrolment in school today compared with 15 years ago.
Gender disparity has reduced dramatically at all levels of education in the developing regions since 2000, hitting the MDG target. The accepted measure of gender parity is between 0.97 and 1.03, and that of primary and secondary education is 0.98, while that of tertiary education is 1.01. However, there are still considerable differences across regions and nations, as disparities favoring either sex tend to cancel each other when aggregated.
1. Primary education
Today, five of the nine developing regions – Eastern Asia, Southeastern Asia, Southern Asia, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean – have achieved parity, with the most substantial progress being made in Southern Asia where it increased from 0.74 to 1.03 between 1990 and 2015 (it was initially the lowest in all regions).
The gap between boys and girls has also reduced significantly in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, and Western Asia. Generally, 64 percent of nations in the developing regions had achieved gender parity in primary education in 2015. 56 percent of the other countries with gender disparity in primary education in 2-12 were in sub-Saharan Africa.
2. Secondary education
As for secondary education, gender parity has been achieved in 2015 in multiple developing regions, namely the Caucasus and Central Asia, South-Eastern Asia, Eastern Asia, Southern Asia, and Northern Africa. In the other 3 regions – Western Asia, Oceania, and sub-Saharan Africa, girls are still at a disadvantage, while the opposite is true in Latin America and the Caribbean – boys are at a disadvantage. Generally, 36 percent of developing countries have achieved gender parity in secondary education.
3. Tertiary education
The largest gender disparities in terms of enrolment ratios are found in tertiary education, since only one developing region – Western Asia – has achieved the target. The most extreme disparities are those at the expense of women in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and at the expense of men in Northern Africa, Eastern Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Generally, only 4 percent of the developing countries with available data had met the target for tertiary education in 2012.
The labor market
Since 1990, the women’s share of wage employment has grown progressively, though at a slow pace. The proportion of women in paid employment outside agriculture has grown from 35 to 41 percent between 1990 and 2015. At the same time, the proportion of women in vulnerable employment – either as a contributing family worker or an own-account worker – has reduced from 59 to 46 percent as a share of total female employment.
Despite the notable gains by women, there are still substantial gaps between men and women in the labor market, with women being less likely to be part of the labor force when compared to men. In 2015, it was estimated that only 50 percent of working age women (above 15 years) are in the labor market compared to 77 percent of men, with the least participation rate in Western Asia, Southern Asia, and Northern Africa. They find it harder to transition into paid work, despite their progress in education, and earn 24 percent less than men.
Significant progress has been made towards girls’ and women’s equality in education, employment, and political representation since 1990, though there are still many gaps in areas not targeted in the MDGs.
For the universal realization of gender equality, it may be necessary to address certain areas like:
- Violence against girls and women
- Men’s and women’s unequal opportunities in the labor market
- Gender-based discrimination in law and practice
- The unequal division of unpaid care and domestic work
- Women’s limited control over property and assets, and
- Women’s unequal representation in public and private decision making
Gender perspectives should be fully integrated into post-2015 agenda goals.