What are the Millennium Development Goals?

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) form the most compelling global agenda of our times.


Meeting the needs of the world’s poorest citizens was the historic promise made by 189 world leaders at the UN Millennium Summit in New York, USA, in 2000. With targets set across poverty, education, environment, health and equality, the global community was galvanised by these shared goals, with a variety of actors taking on roles at a local, national and international scale.

Investing in girls and young women was key to achieving much of the ambition laid out in the MDGs. Yet millions of girls have yet to see the benefits of the MDGs; and whether it is poverty, lack of education, experience of violence, HIV/AIDS or environmental degradation, the impact on girls and young women is far greater than on other groups. 

By enabling girls and young women to fulfill their potential and take an active role in society, and by making sure girls and young women are healthy, educated and enjoy equal rights, entire economies and society at large will benefit. Gender equality and empowerment of girls is not only about “smart economics”, but first and foremost about basic human rights, which are upheld by a number of international declarations and treaties. 

Progress towards the MDGs is monitored through a set of 21 measurable and time-bound targets. The MDGs expire in 2015, and the next set of global goals known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was adopted in September 2015.  Read more about the SDGs here. 

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