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Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

The one target under this goal is that by 2015 all children, both boys and girls, will complete primary school. All regions have made large gains on this target, with 90% of children in the Global South now enrolled in school. All regions except sub-Saharan Africa have enrollment rates over 90%; sub-Saharan African is at 77%, an increase from 53% in 1990. Globally, 90% of children completed primary school, ranging from 70% in sub-Saharan Africa to near 100% in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in Caucasus and Central Asia (United Nations, 2012). Literacy is increasing and gender gaps are narrowing. However, progress has slowed and it is doubted that the goal of universal primary education will be met by 2015. The United Nations states that the largest barrier is familial poverty.

Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

While there is only one target under this goal, to eliminate gender disparity in all levels of education, it has three disparate indicators: the ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary, and tertiary education; the share of women in wage employment in the nonagricultural sector; and the proportion of seats held by women in national parliament. The gender ratio in all levels of education is considered to be at parity; however, there is wide variation between regions. Southern Asia has increased parity greatly, increasing its ratio from .74 in 1990 to .98 currently. Girls struggle with access to primary school, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia, while in Eastern Asia they have greater access than boys.

Only a small amount of progress was made on the second target regarding women’s employment. Globally, women were 35% of the nonagricultural workers in 1990; in 2010, this figure had risen only 5%. It also varies greatly by region, with the Global North, as well as the Caucasus/ Central Asia being close to parity, while Western and Southern Asia as well as Northern Africa are only at 20% of parity. Even when women are employed, they tend to be segregated in lower paying fields. Progress has been made on the third target, the proportion of women in national legislatures, but it remains at a disappointingly low 21%. There is not a great deal of difference on this measure between the Global North (23.8%) and the Global South (20%). Oceania is the lowest at 3%, while Latin America and the Caribbean represent the high end, with 24.5% of seats being held by women.

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