Benny Avni of the New York Sun knows how to write a lede. For example,
"Saudi Arabia, which does not allow women to drive or vote, says it has achieved ‘equality between the sexes.'"
Saudi officials announced earlier this week that the kingdom has managed, almost a decade ahead of schedule, to achieve a set of U.N. goals that includes gender equality.
Imagine that. The United Nations has devised a measure which makes Saudi Arabia look good in terms of gender equality. Which shows you that with creative use of definitions and metrics, bureaucrats and social scientists can design a study that will prove anything.
This information comes from a speech given by the Saudi minister of economy and planning, Khaled al-Gosaibi,
...about the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, targets set by the U.N. Development Program that include eradicating poverty, promoting education, fighting AIDS and other diseases, and protecting the environment.
The targets, known as MDGs, include eight "general" goals, 11 "specific" ones, and 48 "indicators for evaluation." U.N. member states are urged to achieve all of the goals before 2015. [....]
The no. 3 target on the MDG list is to "promote gender equality and empower women," including gender equality in education, literacy, income distribution, and political empowerment for women.
This is all eyewash. These sorts of studies and measures supply talking points for Saudi diplomats and apologists but have no teeth or real meaning. Avni notes,
Hat tip: Ed Lasky
A senior UNDP official told the Sun yesterday that the agency has no "certifying authority" to state that a country has fulfilled the MDGs. The agency's representatives in each country "monitor progress based largely on national statistics," the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.