Over the course of next week, the global community will be reflecting, during the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, on the progress made towards meeting the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), defined by the United Nations in the year 2000 with a target date of 2015.

This year, the focus is on MDG success – terrific progress has been seen in several indicators. A high-level forum hosted by the UN Secretary-General on Monday will examine some concrete examples of what has worked and, importantly, how and why success was achieved. The deliberations of the UN General Assembly over the following days will look at how these successful initiatives can be scaled up to bring universal results.

As we are approaching the 2015 deadline for the MDGs, this is a critical moment in terms of setting targets for development. This year the world is not simply looking back on the work that has been done so far; they are looking forward to define the content of future targets which will replace the MDGs post-2015.

At Tostan, we believe that the most effective approach to achieving all the MDGs is to create broad foundations of community knowledge and leadership upon which future development can be built. Just as the MDGs cover a wide range of development targets, our holistic Community Empowerment Program (CEP) provides community members with the knowledge and skills necessary to take charge of their own community’s development across many different areas of life.

Through the work of our partner communities, our program sees impacts in the areas of Governance (MDG 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women), Education (MDG 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education), Health (MDG 4: Reduce Child Mortality, MDG 5: Improve Maternal Health, and MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases), Economic Growth (MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger), and the Environment (MDG 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability). These results could not be achieved without empowering women to take a role in making decisions and leading development (MDG 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women) or without working alongside both national and international partners (MDG 8: Global Partnership for Development).  

Over the next week and a half, we will be sharing with you examples of communities’ efforts to achieve the MDGs on a local level through stories from each of the eight countries where we work. The work of these dedicated community members, and the Community Management Committees (CMC) set up during the Tostan program to organize and lead such a diverse range of development projects, is truly inspirational and a prime, grassroots example of how sustainable success can be achieved.