Mixed gains for women in Chinas progress on antipoverty goals UN report

The 45-page report, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), China’s Progress, notes that the country will probably achieve most of the MDGs by 2015, the target date for reaching goals ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education.Some targets such as primary education have already been achieved, 13 years ahead of schedule. But China may not be on track for halting and reversing HIV/AIDS, promoting gender equality and providing safe drinking water to its rural populations.The development picture for women is also mixed, the report notes. Gender gaps are widening, and the aging of Chinese society is posing an increasing challenge because the elderly are disproportionately poor and female, with widows and unmarried, childless women among the most economically vulnerable.The widely noted increase in the margin of newborn boys over girls “has serious implications for the future,” the report warns. Sexual predetermination of newborns is illegal in China, but widespread and the government estimates that the sex ratio is about 116 boys for every 100 girls.”The shortage of women will have enormous implications on China’s social, economic and development future,” said UN Resident Coordinator Khalid Malik. “In the next decade, we could have as many as 60 million missing women. People are exercising their preferences, but the consequences for society are huge.”UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan lauded China for the strides it has taken towards reaching the MDGs but cautioned that it still must be prepared to meet the considerable challenges that lie ahead.”The China MDG report alerts us to growing challenges of HIV/AIDS and other health issues, rising inequality and environmental degradation,” he said in a message to the High-Level International Conference on the MDGs in Beijing, delivered on his behalf by Rubens Ricupero, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).”These challenges are by no means unique to China” and countries must work together to resolve them,” he added.

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