chapter  7
15 Pages

No Empowerment without Rights, No Rights without Politics: Gender-equality, MDGs and the post-2015 Development Agenda

WithGita Sen & Avanti Mukherjee

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), their targets and their indicators have dominated development discourse in the last two decades, being upheld as the gold standard for development by various international organizations. Yet some have argued that these goals are reductionist, simplistic and do not do justice to the Millennium Declaration (Amin 2006; Fukuda-Parr 2012; Kabeer 2010; Langford 2010; Saith 2006; Sen 2013; Vandermoortele 2012; Yamin and Falb 2012). The breadth and depth of the Declaration necessarily meant choosing a tractable set of goals, targets and indicators to guide policies and monitor outcomes. However, the politics of agenda setting prioritized a narrow set of issues within particular themes such as poverty alleviation and women’s empowerment. Themes such as inequality and sustainability were absent altogether in the MDGs. While the goals give us a relatively narrow view of development, the chosen targets and indicators led to largely disconnected funding and policy priorities instead of the integrated approach envisioned in the Millennium Declaration. The development agenda shaped by the MDGs created what have been termed “development silos” (DAWN 2012), delinked from human rights and the principles outlined in the Millennium Declaration.