By Martin Banks - 6th July 2011
Where progress has occurred, it has largely skipped the poor
A new report says that progress towards meeting the UN's much-vaunted millennium development goals has been "uneven".
Speaking at a Brussels briefing on Wednesday, a senior UN official said, "There are still too many people being left behind.
"Despite major improvements, large gaps remain between and within countries, and efforts need to be intensified."
The report reflects the most comprehensive, up-to-date data compiled by over 25 UN and international agencies and is produced by the UN department of economic and social affairs.
The 2011 edition says that, since world leaders in the year 2000 established the MDGs to reduce extreme poverty, hunger, illiteracy and disease, MDGs "have helped to lift millions of people out of poverty, save lives and ensure that children attend school".
Nicola Harrington-Buhay, director of the UN/UNDP Brussels office, said, "They have reduced maternal deaths, expanded opportunities for women, increased access to clean water and freed many people from deadly and debilitating disease."
The report shows that the poorest children have made the slowest progress in terms of improved nutrition and survival.
While stressing that achieving the MDGs largely depends on ensuring women's empowerment and equal opportunities for women and men, girls and boys, the report also shows that achieving this goal remains a long way off.
The report finds that opportunities for full and productive employment remain particularly slim for women.
Harrington-Buhay added, "Following significant job losses in 2008-2009, the growth in employment that occurred during the economic recovery in 2010, especially in the developing world, was lower for women than for men.
"Advances in sanitation, the report says, often bypass the poor and those living in rural areas.
She said that more than 2.6 billion people still lack access to toilets or other forms of improved sanitation.
"And where progress has occurred, it has largely skipped the poor. In Southern Asia, for instance, sanitation coverage for the poorest 40 per cent of households has hardly increased between 1995 and 2008."