Parity between boys and girls in primary education enrollment has been achieved, according to the 2012 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) report.

The report highlights that 97 girls are enrolled for every 100 boys, as of 2010, meeting the +/- 3% criteria for parity to be declared. MDG 2 requires universal enrollment in primary education, whilst this is a seen as an important step in achieving MDG 3, that of gender equality, in particular eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education.

However, attention has been drawn to the fact that three quarters of countries that have failed to achieve parity at the primary level enrol more boys than girls right at the beginning of the school cycle. The report remarks, “[u]nless this imbalance is corrected, the inevitable result is a permanent gender disparity in primary school.”

Furthermore, whilst parity has been reached in tertiary education for the developing world in general, sub-Saharan Africa lags significantly behind, with 63 girls enrolled for every 100 boys, as shown below (United Nations, 2012):

Tertiary education enrollment.

The MDGs are a set of eight international development goals, born out of a new-era agreement by United Nations members to take action in the areas of poverty eradication, primary education enrollment, gender equality, child mortality reduction, maternal health, HIV/AIDS and other diseases, environmental sustainability and the formation of global partnerships. Progress is monitored annually, with the 2012 report drawing attention to targets achieved three years ahead of schedule, with respect to poverty, slums and water. Global partnerships have also been highlighted as the key to success in 2015.

In light of the deadline, preparations are being made for post-MDGs, with a recently assembled High Level Panel to be co-chaired by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, along with Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

With an eye on gender equality, Johnson-Sirleaf was the first woman to be elected president in modern Africa, winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for championing the rights of women. However, she has recently come under criticism for defending a Liberian law that criminalises homosexuality.

The panel will produce a report, which will in conjunction with the work of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, “support the ongoing deliberations on the post-2015 development framework.”