The third UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) specifically aims to "promote gender equality and empower women" (United Nations, 2010), primarily through gender parity in education. However, both the rhetoric and implementation of MDG 3, which is primarily grounded in the Women in Development (WID) approach, demonstrate particular understandings of gender equality and women's empowerment that have come under criticism for being far too narrow. It is crucial that we rethink the theoretical basis of MDG 3 to allow for a more complex and comprehensive approach to gender equality and empowerment. In this literature review, I first discuss the WID approach in order to establish a solid understanding of the theoretical underpinnings and limitations of MDG 3. Next, I explore alternative frameworks – namely Gender and Development (GAD), Postmodernism and Development (PAD), and human development (specifically, the capability approach). I identify and synthesize aspects in each of these frameworks that could contribute to the construction of a more holistic approach to gender equality and empowerment that involves more nuanced understandings of education and development.
Education, Equality, and Empowerment
Rethinking the third Millennium Development Goal
Since their inception in September 2000, the second and third United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), often referred to as the education MDGs, have played a major role in influencing international policy making and implementation concerning gender, education, and development (North, 2010). The establishment of these MDGs was the culmination of several conferences in Jomtien, Beijing, and Dakar,1 which collectively have signaled an emerging global commitment to gender equality, women's empowerment, and education for all. However, the second and third MDGs are much more abbreviated versions of the goals and commitments laid out in Jomtien,...