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In 2000, world leaders made a commitment through the United Nations to improving the lives of billions of people living in poverty through a set of time-bound benchmarks known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These goals include: reducing poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment, reducing child mortality and maternal mortality – including through the target of achieving universal access to reproductive health (added in 2007) – halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, and ensuring environmental sustainability, by the year 2015.
As we near the 2015 deadline set for achieving the MDGs, the international community is taking stock of progress. While there have been important gains made since 2000, they have been uneven and not reached everyone. Sexual and reproductive health and rights are far from being fully realized, which negatively affects the health and well-being of millions, especially women, adolescent girls and young people. Gender discrimination and gender-based violence persist, undermining the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women and girls, as well impeding the world’s progress toward all other development objectives. Today’s world has the largest ever generation of people under 25, yet in many places opportunities for adolescents and youth to realize their dreams and build healthy, prosperous lives for themselves remain limited.
As the world prepares to chart the next plan for global development, the High-Level Task Force for the ICPD is working to ensure that sexual and reproductive health and rights, the empowerment of women and gender equality, and the rights and empowerment of adolescents and youth are front and center in the next global development agenda.