Millenium Development Goals Millenium Development Goals    
Achieving the Goals
Capacity Building
Child Mortality
Maternal Health
HIV/AIDS, other diseases
Global Partnership
South Asia
Sub-Saharan Africa
East Asia & the Pacific
Middle East & North Africa
Europe & Central Asia
Latin America & the Caribbean
High-Income Countries



In most low-income countries girls are less likely to attend school than boys. And even when girls start school at the same rate as boys, they are more likely to drop out often because parents think boys' schooling is more important or because girls' work at home seems more valuable than schooling.

Concerns about the safety of girls or traditional biases against educating them can mean that they never start school or do not continue beyond the primary stage.
Target 4 Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and to all levels of education no later than 2015.
Full list of goals and indicators
Ratio of girls to boys in primary and secondary school (%)
The gaps between girls' and boys enrollments have narrowed. East Asia should be close to achieving the goal by 2005. Progress has also been good in the Middle East and North Africa and in South Asia. But in Sub-Saharan Africa, where barriers to girls' schooling have traditionally been lower than in many other places, progress has been disappointing.
Beyond Schooling
Educating women and giving them equal rights is important for many reasons:
  It increases their productivity, raising output and reducing poverty.
It promotes gender equality within households and removes constraints on women's decision making thus reducing fertility rates and improving maternal health.
Educated women do a better job caring for children, increasing children's chances of surviving to become healthier and better educated. Recognizing that empowering women extends beyond the classroom and the household, the Millennium Development Goals include three additional indicators of gender equality: illiteracy rates, the proportion of women working outside agriculture, and the proportion of seats women hold in national parliaments. These indicators suggest that even after reaching the goal of full participation in primary and secondary education, the world will still fall short of gender equality.
Equal access to education is an important step toward greater gender equality, but it is not the only one. Even as gender disparities in education diminish, other differences persist everywhere in legal rights, labor market opportunities, and the ability to participate in public life and decision making.
Girls reach adulthood with higher illiteracy rates than boys (except in Latin America and the Caribbean). Informal training, such as adult literacy classes, can make up some of the difference. But many girls, who begin with fewer opportunities than boys, are at a permanent disadvantage.

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