Fifteen years ago, the world embarked on a journey to eradicate poverty, and transform society in a way no generation prior thought possible. This ambitious agenda manifested in the form of the Millennium Declaration, from which the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) arose. The eight MDGs aimed to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/ AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, and develop a global partnership for development.
Set to expire at the end of 2015, the global community has been looking back on the successes and failures of the MDGs, and incorporating these lessons into the creation and implementation of the next phase of UN-led development, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Rwanda is an inspiring success story for its achievement in nearly reaching all its MDG targets. Taking national ownership of the Goals, Rwanda worked tirelessly to develop and advance the country over the last 15 years. During this time, poverty has been reduced and universal primary education has been achieved; with free education until the conclusion of secondary school (year 12). According to the Millennium Development Goals Report 2015, “the biggest gains in women’s representation during the last 20 years have been made in Rwanda.” Women hold a majority of seats in parliament at 64%, and there is no gender gap in literacy. Child mortality has been reduced, maternal care has increased, access to proper health care and treatment to combat disease has risen, and environmental sustainability has become a government priority, with the consumption of ozone depleting substances, CFCs, dropping from 30 metric tons in 2000 to 0 today.
Though there were huge strides in development, Rwanda faces the biggest challenge in eradicating extreme poverty. As a complicated and multifaceted issue, significant progress in eradicating poverty in Rwanda entails uplifting all aspects of society. Learning from the MDGs, the next phase of goals will implement a framework that takes into account the integrated nature of development and the multidimensionality of poverty.