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The Millennium Development Goals are one of the first sets of time-bound, attainable goals that directly address and attempt to reduce the number of people living in poverty. Women are disproportionately affected by poor socioeconomic conditions and the recognition of this, via the Millennium Development Goals, is a positive step forward for women’s rights. This paper will focus on the fifth Millennium Development Goal, to reduce maternal mortality. The argument will be presented that this goal is insufficient in implementing sustainable change as it does not address the underlying cultural practices such as economic disparity, violence against women, and access to safe abortion. Three nation states have been selected to provide insight into the cultural issues adversely affecting women and their overall health: Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, and Nicaragua. Women’s health is finally being recognized as an important factor for sustainable development but in order for these countries to achieve the fifth MDG, these underlying cultural problems need to be addressed in order to alleviate the subjugation of women.
Advisor: Carleen Sanchez