As the 2015 target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals
approaches, a number of processes are under way among UN Member States, the UN
system, academia, policymakers and civil society to reflect on the post-2015
A growing number of states are reviewing and
prioritizing the lessons learned that need to be incorporated into the post-2015
framework. The most recent (2012) Millennium Development Goals Report revealed
that while there was notable progress in some gender equality dimensions there
remains much to be done in every country, at every level, to achieve equality
and women’s empowerment.
Empowerment means moving from enforced
powerlessness to a position of power. Education is an essential means of
empowering women with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary to
fully participate in the development process. Sustainable development is only
possible when women and men enjoy equal opportunities to reach their
Women and girls experience multiple and intersecting
Structural barriers in the economic, social, political and
environmental spheres produce and reinforce these inequalities. Obstacles to
women’s economic and political empowerment, and violence against women and
girls, are barriers to sustainable development and the achievement of human
rights, gender equality, justice and peace.
Across much of the world,
either by law or custom, women are still denied the right to own land or inherit
property, obtain access to credit, attend school, earn income and progress in
their profession free from job discrimination.
Women are significantly
under-represented in decision-making at all levels.
While the economic
benefits of educating girls are similar to those of educating boys, recent
findings suggest the social benefits are greater.
Women have the
potential to change their own economic status and that of their communities and
countries in which they live yet usually women’s economic contributions are
unrecognized, their work undervalued and their promise
Unequal opportunities between women and men hamper
women’s ability to lift themselves from poverty and secure improved options to
improve their lives. Education is the most powerful instrument for changing
women’s position in society.
Investing in women’s and girls’ education is
one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty.
In line with the
Millennium Development Goals and the objectives established by the international
community, MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, at
Israel’s Foreign Ministry, consistently promotes the empowerment of women,
considering women’s education a critical component of development policy and
planning, and central to sustainable development.
changes in the international development landscape in recent years MASHAV
adopted a dual approach to development: We engage in active development policy
dialogues and development diplomacy, thus contributing to and shaping policy at
a higher, multilateral level.
And, through professional programs, we
maintain an active and effective presence at the field level.
MASHAV’s earliest affiliate training institutions, The Golda Meir Mount Carmel
International Training Center (MCTC), has addressed the connection between
gender, poverty reduction and sustainable development for over five
MCTC places education at the core of women’s ability to
contribute to all activities, working to enhance knowledge, competency and
skills, including in the development process and in their contributions to civil
Guided by this mindset, MASHAV, together with MCTC, the UN
Development Program and UN Women is organizing the 28th International Conference
for Women Leaders on “The Post-2015 and Sustainable Development Goals Agenda:
Ensuring the Centrality of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in the Next
This November, senior women and men from the public and
associative sectors – ministers, members of parliaments, heads of women’s
associations, representatives of international organizations and representatives
of the judicial, business and academic sectors – will convene in Haifa to
discuss progress achieved and gaps remaining in the implementation of the
Millennium Development Goals from a gender perspective. We will highlight
lessons learned and best practices in advancing gender equality and women’s
Education is important for everyone, but it is a critical
area of empowerment for girls and women. This is not only because education is
an entry point to opportunity but also because women’s educational achievements
have positive ripple effects within the family and across
Education is much more than reading and writing. It is an
essential investment countries make for their futures, a crucial factor in
reducing poverty and achieving sustainable development.
former Israeli ambassador to the UN Daniel Carmon, is head of MASHAV, Israel’s
Agency for International Development Cooperation.