The achievement of gender equality in education, and of women's empowerment more generally, have recently become established amongst the highest international priorities for policy action. This paper examines the processes by which they came to be included amongst the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It argues that the revised targets to 2015 are more practicable than earlier goals. However, it shows that rates of progress will need to be improved, and that financial support from the north is still running at less than half the required levels. Goal achievement presupposes some agreed understanding of the meaning of gender equality. The paper reveals important contradictions between the language of analysis and the vocabulary of policy. Finally, it examines some of the instruments available for monitoring progress and building pressure for policy reform. It shows that failures to meet policy undertakings are as evident - and as serious in their implications for the possibility of achieving the MDGs - amongst aid donors as they are amongst developing-country governments themselves.
Centre for Commonwealth Education, University of Cambridge, UK. WP07/02, 22 pp. Also published in Shailaja Fennell and Madeleine Arnot (eds.), Gender, Education andEquality in a Global Context: Conceptual Frameworks and Policy Perspectives, London: Routledge, 2007