The Army and the MDGs
An international effort to eradicate poverty
by Christin Davis –
In an eight-part series, New Frontier is exploring the United Nations’ eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to eradicate poverty and achieve basic human rights for all people, and detailing Salvation Army work to accomplish the goals.
Goal 1: To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Read more about this goal in New Frontier, volume 28, number 3.
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Read more about this goal in New Frontier, volume 28, number 5.
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Many women in India work in the lowest-paid jobs, putting in long hours of difficult labor while middlemen and sellers along the production chain are the main beneficiaries of their work.
Over the past decade, self-help groups (SHGs) have been found to be a useful tool to help women escape the trap of poverty. The groups—usually consisting of between 15-20 women and costing less than $400 USD for original administration and operating costs—have surfaced as a mechanism to link women with micro-finance.
Women are seen as low-risk lending opportunities for banks and have demonstrated excellent repayment records. Estimates suggest that of the more than 1.5 million SHGs operating in India, at least 90 percent are led and operated by women.
Through The Salvation Army, roughly 1,000 women’s SHGs are currently operating in all six Indian territories. The groups have also allowed the Army to spread vital information to enhance the social and political status of women, including domestic violence prevention, anti-human trafficking awareness and health training in such areas as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, malnutrition prevention, family planning, immunization, water, sanitation, human rights and literacy. In many groups this has also led to opportunities to develop spiritual conversations.
Some 750 small businesses have started because women in various parts of India obtained business loans through the operation of a Salvation Army-initiated SHG.
Due to this success, 20 men’s SHGs were formed in southern India in the hope that they will benefit men—and their communities—in the same way.
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: A global partnership for development
See more about the MDGs in the upcoming parts of this New Frontier series, in the spring 2010 issue of Caring, and at endpoverty2015.org.