Together in the fight against poverty
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

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The challenge

Two-thirds of the illiterate people in the world are women.

Women are today the first but also the most exploited labour force. They do about 66% of the world’s work but only get 5-10% of its income.

Every day in the world girls and women suffer gender inequity: at school, in the workplace, in their daily life, in political life, and with access to health and basic services such as water and sanitation.

In the poorest countries this inequality is even more striking and restrictive because it is deeply linked to cultural factors.

Our plan: to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005 and at all levels of education by 2015; to improve the share of female employees in all types of jobs; and to increase the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments.

How are we doing?

how are we doing

At school, there has been significant progress. The gender gap in primary school enrolment has narrowed to over 95 girls for every 100 boys in developing countries.

In 2009, women held 19% of seats in national assemblies. Although it is still too low, many countries, such as India, have set out quotas to reinforce the share of women in assemblies.

Our action

The EU's action in developing countries within this area aims to:

  • improve girls' access to primary education but also to secondary and higher education;
  • support the economic emancipation of women;
  • improve their access into politics;
  • allow them to live in security, by fighting violence against women.

The EU has tripled the amount of aid it dedicates to promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women: for 2007-2013, it reached EUR 57 million.

Quick facts

  • Nearly 1 billion women live in poverty around the world
  • Two-thirds of children denied primary education are girls
  • Women own less than 1% of the world's property

From the field

Women and men attending an information session as part of the “Women Against Rape” initiative © European Union, 1995-2010

Women Against Rape, Botswana – “Silence is violence”

“Women Against Rape” provides support to women who are survivors of rape and other forms of violence. Counselling forms the backbone of their activities. They also provide legal support, rehabilitate perpetrators and raise awareness through education.

Men counting their shares at an open Barbaig Community Bank in the Manyara region, Tanzania © European Union, 1995-2010

Access to financial services in rural and remotes areas

There is a lack of financial institutions in the African, Pacific and Caribbean countries. Microfinance can help low income people access banking and related services. Remote areas are largely underserved, leaving large chunks of a mostly poor population with no access to financial services.


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