2015 - 2016: UN Millennium Development Goals | The Year of Human Rights | Webster University

2015 - 2016: UN Millennium Development Goals

Conference Summary

2015 Human Rights ConferenceWebster University’s Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies hosted its eighth Annual Human Rights Conference on October 7-8, 2015. Held at Webster’s home campus in Saint Louis, Missouri, the conference focused on the Millennium Development Goals in coordination with the 2015/16 Year of International Human Rights (YIHR) theme. Speakers also discussed the recently-adopted Sustainable Development Goals, which represent the United Nations’ “next step” in promoting its global development agenda.

The conference’s first plenary lecture was presented by three Webster professors, who offered the study of Brazil for better understanding the MDGs related to ensuring environmental sustainability and eradicating extreme poverty. Deborah Pierce (Center for International Education), Kate Parsons (Philosophy), and Amanda Rosen (International Relations) were part of a 2015 Fulbright-Hays team that spent five weeks in Brazil learning about sustainability and researching ways to bring those lessons back into the classroom. Joined by middle and high school teachers, as well as university students, their travels took them around the country – including to Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Foz de Iguacu, Brasilia, Salvador, Fortaleza, and Manaus.

Professor Rosen discussed the case of the Itaipu Dam, which is a source of renewable energy as well as an example of international cooperation. Created through a treaty between Brazil and Paraguay, this project creates the energy necessary to support and develop economies, as well as to provide essential services for people on both sides of the border. However, this project came at a cost; the construction of the dam displaced local residents (including indigenous tribes), had deeply harmful consequences for animals and plants (including the extinction of several then-endangered species), led to deforestation in the area, and prompted the destruction of the Guaira Falls, which were once the world’s largest waterfalls by volume.

Pierce and ParsonsProfessor Parsons outlined a sustainable tourism and fishing project outside of the beach city of Fortaleza, where local residents used grassroots activism to protect their environment and livelihoods. Community members have sought out sustainable ways to encourage tourism in their area, while at the same time ensuring that the beaches are protected from construction and development that will harm the fishing industry.

Lastly, Dr. Pierce highlighted the grassroots efforts of local activists in Rio de Janeiro – a city struggling with massive water shortages and pollution. For instance, environmental activists have teamed with local residents to protect endangered crabs and restore mangroves. Instead of criminalizing locals who harvested mangrove trees for wood and crabs for food, local organizations teamed with residents to restore mangrove forests and protect endangered species. This approach not only prioritizes the environment – including mangroves that are vital for cleaning the local water supply – but also ensures that locals have a way to support themselves and their families. These organizations also work with community members to professionalize recycling programs, helping many women regain their dignity by learning professional skills to build and maintain their businesses. 

The second plenary lecture was given by Emily Farell from The Advocates for Human Rights, a non-governmental organization in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She focused on the MDG of achieving universal primary education. The “right to education” is outlined in international law, and governments have the obligation to fulfill the four A’s: Education must be available, accessible, acceptable, and adaptable for all. These duties are key because education is an “empowerment right” that helps people advocate for and enjoy other human rights. It can also transform societies, leading to positive outcomes such as peace and economic development; it is therefore central for achieving the other MDGs.

Since 2000, we have watched progress being made toward achieving this goal. For instance, there has been a 42 percent drop in the number of children not enrolled in school and there has been notable progress toward gender parity between boy and girl students.

However, this goal has not been fully achieved – particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Donor funding has been in decline since 2010, yet problems related to illiteracy and children being out of school continue. Conflict also creates challenges for school attendance and enrollment. According to UNESCO, 57 million children are still out of school today; that means one in 10 children are denied their full education rights.

There are many challenges to universal primary education. Among them are expenses; it seems like the poorer you are, the more expensive school can be. Even in places where school is supposedly “free”, costs such as school supplies, uniforms, tutors, and exam fees often place a high burden on poor families. Other challenges include conflict and child soldiering, the need for children to work for livelihoods, child marriage and teen pregnancies, gender discrimination, and the impacts of various disabilities.

Many of the obstacles to education are things that Americans would never think of. Malnourishment, for instance, can impact brain development and set a child back the equivalent of four years of lost schooling. Hard geographic terrain can make it impossible for a child to reach the nearest school, and displacement from armed conflict sometimes means that children have no school at all. Issues with infrastructure are also problematic; sometimes a lack of toilets, or bathrooms for girl students, means that children can’t seek an education. In poor countries, there simply aren’t textbooks; in Cameroon, one reading text is shared by 11 students, on average.

FarellMs. Farell notes that there is good news – including a more focused on planning and a concrete initial framework for thinking through the issue of educational rights. However, the MDGs don’t include a human rights perspective; our thinking about development and education change vastly if we adopt a human rights perspective. For example, our current thinking about economic development ignores legal obligations to provide primary education.

“By prioritizing education over other rights, we missed out on some opportunities for long-term change,” said Farell. “We need to take a holistic approach” – and that includes talking more about gender discrimination, assessing learning quality and outcomes, and thinking through how various human rights impact each other. It also means strategizing for continued success and sustainable solutions.

“One of the most ironic things about the MDGs is that, while they stressed sustainability, they did not include sustainable funding for goals like education,” Farell said. Instead, these goals were time-bound and prioritized some issues over other related problems.

While the new Sustainable Development Goals still do not adopt a human rights approach, there is some forward progress. SDG #4 stresses inclusion, equity, quality, and lifelong learning – all concepts that were ignored with the MDGs, but have become prioritized by the international community. 

The third plenary lecture was presented by Christopher Morley of SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York. His research centers on the social determinants of health; in this case, determinants that relate to the MDGs of reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.

“We often focus on pathogens,” Morley said. “But there are structural issues here that aren’t exactly head scratchers. If you don’t have people drinking sewage water, babies live longer. It turns out that we also see positive health impacts if we simply treat each other better.”

Those simple statements also ring true in the United States; numerous medical studies show stark differences in child mortality when we compare the death rates of white babies versus black babies born in the U.S.

When it comes to child mortality and maternal health globally, one challenge is a lack of data. Only 51 percent of countries have reliable data about issues such as maternal health, although research is improving. Despite research gaps, there’s broad agreement that there are serious gaps in the healthcare workforce. The World Health Organization estimates that the international community will be short of 12.9 healthcare workers by 2035, and that we are already short by 7.2 million.

MorleyDr. Morley’s research shows that these gaps matter; the more medical practitioners in a society, the higher the vaccination rates among children and the lower the rates of child and maternal deaths. For every one doctor that is added per 1,000 people, an estimated 9 child lives are saved.

One obstacle to building the healthcare workforce in the developing world is the issue of “brain drain”. Some medical professionals migrate so they can get higher-paying jobs elsewhere, or (as in the case of India) so they can send remittances home. Uganda was recently criticized for making a deal with Trinidad and Tobago, exchanging their doctors for help exploiting oil resources.

This issue is part of the “positive” right to health. Positive rights require input of resources and expertise. So Dr. Morley asked a number of questions, including: What about healthcare when there is no state? Or when it’s too weak to protect and provide for its people? Take the case of southern Lebanon, where the main provider of health services is Hezbollah.

In the United States, attempts to protect the universal right to health are often met with debates about socialism and big government, or about the decreasing ability of doctors and pharmaceutical companies to make a profit. As Dr. Morley admitted, he doesn’t have all of the answers to these questions or debates. But, in his words: “An unimmunized, unhealthy, and short-lived society is to no one’s benefit.” 

On Thursday, Robert Lorway (Centre for Global Public Health, University of Manitoba) started the day with the conference’s fourth plenary lecture. He explored the MDG goal related to combatting HIV/AIDS in his talk titled “Technocratic HIV Interventions in the Era of the Millennium Development Goals.” In particular, he discussed the case of Avahan, the India AIDS Initiative, and health interventions in India.

Avahah, which received more than $330 million in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, focused its health strategies in India on changing behavior and promoting condom usage. The program provided specialized services to the most at-risk persons (MARPs), working in partnership with NGOs, the government, and universities; it has since declared “success” in India and moved on to Kenya, although many positive gains are “sliding back,” according to Lorway. Avahan weaved together business logic with public health principles, especially “implementation sciences” used by pharmaceutical supply chains. It aimed to inject private sector thinking into civil society; it approached health service delivery as a business. Instead of treating vulnerable populations as “poor victims”, they were instead viewed as resilient entrepreneurs – including outreach workers that were viewed as a “sales force”.

“You can give out condoms to sex workers, but [that won’t make much of a difference] if police are harassing them and they are facing violence every day,” explained Lorway. Empowerment, therefore, was a central goal for combatting HIV/AIDS in India.

However, Lorway also remarked that an increasing drive to produce “measurable results” has some scholars questioning whether the processes of measurement themselves have impacts, including unintended negative consequences. So-called “field visits” (which Lorway calls “inspection tours”) highlight monitoring and surveillance of health projects with the aim of convincing donors to invest in projects – and building the Avahan brand, in this case study. This surveillance included meeting quotas for testing people for HIV/AIDS; if those quotas couldn’t be met, non-risky groups would be tested in order to boost numbers – wasting time, money, and human resources in the process.

LorwayOne activist told Lorway in 2015: Avahan went from social activism and community service to “company work” focused on “form filling”, which outreach workers needed to do in order to receive funding. For instance, Avahan utilized community feedback by distributing evaluation forms, complete with images for illiterate stakeholders. However, these useful practices later gave way to standardized tracking sheets that asked for detailed person information that made it difficult for outreach workers to build trust. These forms were time-intensive and overly-bureaucratic, taking time away from health interventions themselves.

Some approaches also viewed same sex as pathological or immoral, treating certain sexual behavior as if they were diseases or addiction. This was reflected by case workers themselves, even about their own sexuality, leading Lorway to question: Do these interventions impact sexual dissidence and political dissent? Do they impact social movements, such as quelling movements for LGBTQ rights in India?

Lorway ended his lecture with the concluding question: “How do we meet the requirement for measurable evidence and accountability without undermining the capacity of local community-based organizations to effectively respond to the HIV epidemic?” 

In the conference’s fifth plenary lecture, Ather Zia (University of Northern Colorado) used the case of Kashmir for exploring the MDG of promoting gender equality and empowering women. She began by showing the Indian government’s report full of images of “happy bureaucrats” and children eating nutritious meals; images that donors want to see, but which lead to the question: What is hidden or invisible here? To answer that simple question, Zia contends that Kashmir – a disputed region between India and Pakistan – is a “zone of exception” when it comes to Indian policy on Kashmir and its display of the Millennium Development Goals. Kashmir valley, which is also known to exist in a “terminal colonial situation” under India,does not appear in MDG reports. We can conduct a simple Google search and see that state of political dispute and the human rights violations prevalent there and which is not reflected in the reports. 

Zia provided an overview of the conflict between India and Pakistan that has caused tension in Kashmir since the 1940s. The region is now carved up between the two nuclear powers (along with a piece of “no man’s land” controlled by China). The territory of Kashmir is under the Disturbed Areas Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 (AFSPA), which gives the military unlimited powers over human life in Kashmir. The armed troops can kill without being held accountable, Zia argues, noting that Kashmiri people are undergoing psychological, physical and cultural oppression. India has committed serious human rights violations since the armed uprising for Independence started in 1989.  The violent responses to armed militancy known as counter-insurgency, by the Indian government include more than 70,000 killed (depending on the source of information) forced disappearances (8000 +), mass executions, and mass rapes. Kashmir is seen by the international community as a bi-lateral dispute, but Zia believes it is an active conflict where the aspirations of people are strongly for an independent state. 

While the armed militancy has decreased since 2000, Kashmir remains a highly militarized zone; there is an estimated one army person for every 8 Kashmiri men. Sexual violence and the killing of “stone pelters” has occurred, and pellet guns and pepper spray have been used, even on minors. Kashmir has been deeply impacted by the militarization. For instance, women often serve as chaperones to male relatives in order to protect them from the Indian army. Women are also joining protests and pelting stones and are active in human rights movements, especially in the search for men disappeared in the custody of Indian army. This “war system” is becoming increasingly normalized, with high rates of sexual violence against women and other key human rights challenges that obstruct gender dynamics and women’s equality. 

Zia“There are some serious lapses [in rights and development reports],” explains Zia. “They need to be accounted for.” For instance, she gave the example of “half widows” whose husbands have been forcibly disappeared (and probably killed) by government forces. India’s MDG reports do not talk about the state of women’s affairs in Kashmir who are seriously compromised by the Indian government’s policies.  Zia contends that “women’s rights are enmeshed in the political solution for Kashmir.” 

Furthermore, the issue of humanitarian aid by the military to combat counter-insurgency in Kashmir tends to normalize the Indian hegemony. Zia argues that ignoring these cases of human rights violations and more importantly the ignorance about the aspirations of Kashmiris for independence allows states such as India to “get away with murder” and present international report without the fear of any backlash. This is particularly noteworthy now, as India seeks a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. 

Hans Peter Schmitz from the University of San Diego, California, provided the conference’s last plenary lecture. He explored the MDG of building global partnerships for development by focusing specifically on digitally-enabled activism.

To begin, Schmitz noted that there is unclear causality and a lack of data for assessing the MDGs. There are concerns that those with existing resources were most impacted by the goals, and that the most vulnerable populations were hardest to reach. We saw immense progress toward poverty alleviation in countries such as China and India, where the governments tend to be more authoritarian than democratic. There are also concerns that the MDGs are driven by bureaucrats and lobbyists, creating competition among NGOS to get “their thing” into the newly-adopted Sustainable Development Goals. “Once [an issue] is in there, it gets money,” Schmitz explained simply.

The question: Do local people really care? They are not involved in deciding which issues become part of campaigns such as the MDGs and SDGs, and perhaps their participation is not practically possible – but local people and organizations are the ones who must implement these campaigns. While the SDGs may create a framework for action, how should local organizations proceed? To help answer these questions, Schmitz contends that digital media is leading to some disruptive change. “Technology is being used by people to replace the absent state,” he noted. For instance, phones can be used to transfer money and to report human rights violations. Digital platforms are increasingly being used for advocacy (although some critics complain that many digital activists are simply “clicktivists” or “slacktivists”).

Examples such as 350.org (a digital campaign to divest from oil and coal investments) highlight how the Internet can be used to personalize issues, make problems easy to understand, and reach “real” people. These campaigns reach large audiences and are inexpensive, yet they also come with drawbacks: they are difficult for organizations to control or direct and they often fail to account for regional and local differences.

Other examples include Change.org (a for-profit organization that circulates online petitions for social change, but which also sells information about petition signers) and Sumofus.org (an online organization that mobilizes action against corporations). In the case of Sumofus.org, their website portrays well-attended and fun events, like setting the world record for the most people blowing conch shells on a Hawaiian beach; the idea is to keep it simple, fun, and engaging.

SchmitzMore traditional organizations, like Oxfam, have different approaches and can’t compete with these types of online presence. Yet traditional organizations have more funding and infrastructure to research issues and follow-up on progress. They send to work “quietly” with other players, such as Sumofus.org, who are able to attract large support bases but may lack the research legitimacy.

Increasingly, for-profit organizations are becoming part of the social justice scene. InVenture is a for-profit organization that provides business and technical assistance for micro-businesses, as well as accessible credit. Schmitz argues that this approach is a useful one to consider; he suggests starting with a goal and working backwards. “Just caring about an issue isn’t enough,” he said. “What do you want to happen?”

Schmitz noted that he wants to “reclaim social enterprise as a real possibility for development.” While he’s not a supporter of popular social enterprises such as TOMS, which sells shoes and other merchandise on a one-for-one charity model (and which he says doesn’t think enough about what poor people actually want), he does see potential in business modeling. “I want you to give up this idea that non-profits are different than businesses,” he said. “Making money is not necessarily a bad thing if you want to make the world a better place. But it is tricky.”

To accomplish this, Schmitz encourages students to focus on the impact they want to make. “How much difference do you make, and how do you measure it?” This can be frustrating because students want to do good, but low wages in non-profit work often can’t pay living wages. He believes people should have both – the opportunity to do good and make a living. “You’re not a savior,” he said. “You are building a skill set [to make the world a better place].” (To learn more about social enterprise, he recommends visiting the Social Good Guides at www.socialgoodguides.com.

Following the plenary lectures, several speakers gathered to participate in a roundtable discussion chaired by Webster professor Chris Parr (Religious Studies). Participants included Emily Farell, Hans Peter Schmitz, keynote speaker Judith Blau, and Lisa Nesser. (Nesser is the Founder and Executive Director of Thai Freedom House, a community center for refugees and minorities in Thailand, and the owner of the social enterprise Free Bird Café. Her photographic work from the exhibit “Refugee: Ten Years Along the Thai-Burma Border” was on display during the conference.)

The roundtable discussion included exploration of the following issues: (1) Thoughts on the new SDGs, including questions about how they were negotiated and why certain issues were prioritized. (2) Consideration of local efforts to accomplish the MDGs, which was a common theme throughout the plenary lectures. Nesser’s work in Thailand helped explore this topic, and she noted that “we need to ask people what they need” instead of being tied up by grants. (3) Structural violence, including the role of capitalism in human rights and development. (4) The question of how we hold the MDGs (and now the SDGs) accountable. This includes looking at the impacts of such aspirational language and questioning the scope and potential of these goals. 

A keynote lecture by Judith Blau (Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) concluded Webster’s 2015 Annual Human Rights Conference. Despite losing her voice, Blau addressed students and faculty to ask the powerful questions: Is the United States ready for the SDGs? Is it ready for human rights?

Although the SDGs are largely targeted at developing countries, statistics in the U.S. show that the developed world also has much to learn and achieve. Blau presented startling statistics to illustrate her point, including: Fourteen percent of American families face food insecurity. Women earn 79 cents for every dollar earned by men. Lead poisoning from water is harming children in cities such as Flint, Michigan. High income inequalities and low social spending follow racial divides.

BlauFrom a human rights perspective, the U.S. is not a party to a variety of human rights treaties. Three major treaties were signed but never ratified. “That’s truly appalling,” said Blau. “We don’t cooperate with the international community on human rights treaties. Copyright and trade agreements, sure. Those are for protecting capitalism.” This stands in stark contrast to the “truly wondrous” time when U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt helped create the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

On a federal level, the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights are focused on “negative” rights, meaning civil and political rights. These are things that shouldn’t be taken away by the government, such as freedom of speech and the ability to vote. Yet the Patriot Act infringed on those rights, and the 2015 Freedom Act continues that recent tradition. Torture occurs in places as varied as Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and within police stations throughout the United States. Voting rights are being stripped away (including in the American South, where Blau has worked as an activist) and corporations are being recognized as individuals worthy of rights.

To compare the U.S. Constitution with other countries, Blau recommends the Constitute Project (www.constituteproject.org). Students should note that many countries aspire to providing a decent standard of living, disability rights, non-discrimination, the rights of women and children, health care, and environmental protection. Yet these social goods aren’t central to the U.S. Constitution. “So why don’t we do something about that?” asked Blau.

Blau and colleagues are currently working on a project to revise the U.S. Bill of Rights, aiming to make human rights protection and sustainable development a central focus. She believes that such change needs to start at the grassroots level, perhaps through proposals submitted via Change.org. She is also working on a book project (Of the People, For the People, By the People) to address this issue. Ultimately, Blau contends that pressure must come from the American people – just like with the Civil Rights Movement and many other social movements. Although it is potentially dangerous to simplify the process for changing the Constitution, Blau also believes that such activism holds enormous potential for vast social movement progress. While the MDGs did not focus on the United States, she hopes that the U.S. government will get “on board” with the SDGs and its inherent values. 

Audience participationWebster’s 2015 Annual Human Rights Conference reflected on the Millennium Development Goals and considered vital “next steps” less than two weeks after the United Nation’s formal adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. For more information on the speakers click here.

The Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies offers a variety of related human rights programming throughout the academic year, so please check the university calendar and be sure to “like” the Institute on Facebook to view event announcements. Next year’s conference will focus on the theme of the Equality Before the Law in October 2016. 

Conference Schedule

Human Rights front tableThe eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) range from halving extreme poverty rates to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education. Created as a blueprint for governments and development institutions with a target date of 2015, the MDGs have galvanized support for meeting the needs of the world’s poorest. Webster University’s 2015 Annual Human Rights Conference (October 7-8, 2015) reflected on the successes and failures of the MDGs and considered the post-2015 development agenda. 

All conference events were held in East Academic Building 253/262 (building #6 on the campus map) unless otherwise noted. See schedule below.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015




11:15 - 11:30am Welcome and conference framework Lindsey Kingston, Webster University, Institute Director and Assistant Professor of International Human Rights
11:30 -12:45pm Plenary #1 – Ensure environmental sustainability & eradicate extreme poverty Deborah Pierce, Webster University Center for International Education, and colleagues Kate Parsons and Amanda Rosen. "Lessons from Brazil: Next Steps for Environmental Sustainability & Human Development" 
12:45 -2:00pm BREAK  
2:00 - 3:15pm Plenary #2 – Achieve universal primary education Emily Farell, The Advocates for Human Rights. “The Power of Human Rights Education”
3:30 - 4:45pm  Plenary #3 – Reduce child mortality and improve maternal health Christopher Morley, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Department of Family Medicine. “Global Development and the Healthcare Workforce”

Thursday, October 8, 2015




9:30 - 9:45am Welcome and recap Lindsey Kingston, Webster University, Institute Director and Assistant Professor of International Human Rights 
10:00 -11:15am Plenary #4 – Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases Robert Lorway, University of Manitoba, Centre for Global Public Health. “Technocratic HIV Interventions in the Era of the Millennium Development Goals” 
11:15 - 12:00pm BREAK  
12:00 - 1:15pm Plenary #5 – Promote gender equality and empower women Ather Zia, University of Northern Colorado, Department of Anthropology and Gender Studies Program. “The Case of Kashmir: Gender Equality and the Question of Empowerment”
1:30 - 2:45pm Plenary #6 – Global partnerships for development Hans Peter Schmitz, Associate Professor, University of San Diego, School of Leadership and Education Sciences. “2015 and Beyond: MDGs, Digitally-Enabled Activism, and Human Rights” 
3:00 - 4:15pm Roundtable Discussion Chaired by Chris Parr, Institute Fellow and Professor of Religious Studies
5:30 - 7:00pm Keynote Address (reception to follow) Judith Blau, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “The Sustainable Development Goals and Human Rights: Bringing the United States on Board”


Internet resources on the MDGs and related issues

United Nations Millennium Development Goals official website: www.un.org/millenniumgoals

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

  • CARE International (www.care.org). CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. The organization places special focus on working alongside poor women because, “equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty.”
  • The Water Project (thewaterproject.org). One of the greatest causes of poverty in Africa is also the most overlooked – the lack of access to clean drinking water.
  • Operation Food Search (www.operationfoodsearch.org). Operation Food Search (OFS) is a Saint Louis food bank that distributes food free of charge helping to feed the poor and hungry. OFS distributes more than 1.5 million pounds of perishable and non-perishable food and household items to 300 food pantries and soup kitchens who offer emergency hunger-relief to nearly 120,000 poor people every single month.

Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education

  • Smile Foundation (www.smilefoundationindia.org). Smile Foundation believes that whether you are addressing healthcare, poverty, population control, unemployment or human rights, there's no better place to start than in the corridors of education.
  • Room to Read (roomtoread.org). Room to Read’s efforts are focused into two main areas: building literacy and the habit of reading among primary school children, and empowering girls to complete secondary school and succeed beyond that.
  • Child Aid (child-aid.org). Child Aid's mission is to create opportunity for Latin America's rural and indigenous poor through childhood literacy and education programs.

Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women

  • Equality Now (www.equalitynow.org). Equality Now is an organization that advocates for the human rights of women and girls around the world by raising international visibility of individual cases of abuse, mobilizing public support through our global membership, and wielding strategic political pressure to ensure that governments enact or enforce laws and policies that uphold the rights of women and girls.
  • Women for Women International (www.womenforwomen.org). This organization brings women together in a safe space to learn life, business, and vocational skills. Once enrolled, each receives a monthly stipend – a vital support that enables her to participate.
  • Global Fund for Women (www.globalfundforwomen.org). The Global Fund for Women advances the rights of women and girls worldwide by increasing the resources for and investing in women-led organizations and women’s collective leadership for change.

Goals 4 & 5: Reduce Child Mortality / Improve Maternal Health

  • Gates Foundation (www.gatesfoundation.org). This foundation seeks to ensure that women and newborns survive and remain healthy during pregnancy and childbirth and to improve health outcomes for young children.
  • Neonatal Network Support System (www.nnssghana.org). The Neonatal Network Support System (NNSS) Ghana is a non-profit organization working to improve newborn survival and quality of life. It operates mainly in Northern Ghana with our Headquarters in Tamale.
  • Savannah Signatures (savsign.org/technology-for-maternal-health). One of this organization’s projects includes setting up maternal health corners, organizing knowledge sharing sessions, and delivery of SMS/ audio messages. The project make easily understandable maternal health information readily accessible to expectant mothers, and also uses the efficacy of ICT to provide maternal health care communication to expectant mothers in the remotest locations.
  • Women and Health Alliance International (WAHA) (www.waha-international.org). WAHA strives to be an important international player in terms of implementing and funding a wide range of activities that promote women's health in settings where the needs are greatest, and in advocating for greater action to be taken to reduce maternal deaths.
  • The Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) (www.carmma.org). The main objective is to expand the availability and use of universally accessible quality health services, including those related to sexual and reproductive health that are critical for the reduction of maternal mortality. CARMMA aims to renew and strengthen efforts to save the lives of women who should not have to die while giving life.
  • International Pediatric Association (www.ipa-world.org). This organization believes that pediatricians, working with other partners, are leaders in promoting physical, mental, and social health for all children, and in realizing the highest standards of health for newborns, children, and adolescents in all countries of the world.

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

  • DESIRE society (www.desiresociety.org). DESIRE Society is a non-profit voluntary organization. The organization is functioning with an objective of health development and well-being of children infected and affected with HIV and AIDS in India by having presence in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai and Vizag. The main focus of the organization is to provide institutional care homes for the children abandoned and orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
  • Mothers2Mothers (www.m2m.org). This organization trains, employs, and empowers Mentor Mothers, who are mothers living with HIV, to work alongside doctors and nurses in understaffed health centers as members of the healthcare team. Mentor Mothers provide essential health education and psychosocial support to other HIV-positive mothers on how they can protect their babies from HIV infection, and keep themselves and their families healthy.
  • Together Against Malaria (TAMTAM) (www.tamtamafrica.org). TAMTAM distributes free bed nets to prevent malaria in a cost-effective, targeted, innovative and evidence-based manner. TAMTAM conducts operational research on bed net distribution to help improve the use of bed nets worldwide.

Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

  • GreenBlue (www.greenblue.org). GreenBlue is an environmental nonprofit dedicated to the sustainable use of materials in society. It promotes transparency, provides design evaluation tools, guides post-use material communication, creates conference-based and classroom-based educational opportunities, engages trade associations and government agencies, and offers consulting services.
  • Rainforest Action Network (www.ran.org). The network campaigns for the forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through education, grassroots organizing and non-violent direct action.
  • Carbon Disclosure Project (www.cdp.net). CDP works to transform the way the world does business to prevent dangerous climate change and protect our natural resources. The organization sees “a world where capital is efficiently allocated to create long-term prosperity rather than short-term gain at the expense of our environment.”

Goal 8: Global Partnership for Development

  • Acumen Fund (acumen.org). Acumen raises charitable donations to invest in companies, leaders, and ideas that are changing the way the world tackles poverty. The organization founders envisioned “wouldn’t simply make grants, but would invest in entrepreneurs who had the capability to bring sustainable solutions to big problems of poverty.”
  • Kiva (kiva.org). Microloan organization that allows people to choose a field partner, lend the money, and get repaid.
  • Heifer International (www.heifer.org). Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market. When many families gain this new sustainable income, it brings new opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural cooperatives, forming community savings and funding small businesses.

Print resources

  • The Millennium Development Goals and Beyond: Global Development After 2015, edited by Rorden Wilkinson and David Hulme.
  • The Millennium Development Goals and Human Rights: Past, Present and Future, by Malcolm Langford and Andy Sumner.
  • Millennium Development Goals: Achievements and Prospects of Meeting the Targets in Africa, by Francis Nwonwu.
  • Millennium Development Goals: Looking Beyond 2015, by Matthew Clarke and Simon Feeny.
  • The Millennium Development Goals: Raising the Resources to Tackle World Poverty, edited by Fantu Cheru and Colin Bradford.
  • An Introduction to Sustainable Development, by Jennifer Elliott.
  • Sustainable Development: The UN Millennium Development Goals, the UN Global Compact, and the Common Good, edited by Oliver Williams.
  • Claiming the Millennium Development Goals: A Human Rights Approach, by the United Nations.
  • Integrating Human Rights into Development, Second Edition: Donor Approaches, Experiences, and Challenges, by OECD and World Bank.

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