There has been a focus in the news recently on the Millennium Development Goals. This is because world leaders have been gathered at the United Nations in order to the mark the progress that has been achieved with regards to the MDG’s. The MDG’s represent an interesting piece of international cooperation. They target several of the greatest problems currently afflicting the world and seek to address them by 2015. Whether or not you believe in the possibility of achieving those goals on time, the recognition of these problems and the vast efforts to ensure the goals are met represent advances in the way in which we perceive the world.

Not content to allow large segments of the population to continue to suffer, political leaders and non-governmental organizations agreed to address some of these afflictions. Underlying this process is an understanding that there is an inherent humanity in all of us and being human comes with certain inalienable rights. The MDG’s seek to provide those most deprived with their intrinsic rights.

Given the current state of politics and international diplomacy, certain MDG’s have made little progress since 2000 and are in danger of not being met by 2015. The Chair of the Global Alliance to Improve Nutrition (GAIN) has explained in an opinion piece on, “We are missing success because while we are talking about development at the highest level, with the noblest intentions on the most grandiose stage, we are leaving critical voices out of the discussion. The most glaring voices absent are those of local women.”

As happens too often in the field of politics, decisions are being made at policy level, decisions that will have a direct impact on people at the grassroots, without consulting with those who will be most affected. What is lacking is an understanding that these people have something to contribute. This understanding comes from the recognition of our oneness. Instead, emphasis is placed on the secondary aspects of people’s identity, their gender, nationality, education level or economic status so that their spiritual identity, that which we all share, is not taken into account. Yet it is this collective identity that serves as the basis for understanding humanity to be one. And it is this oneness that allows us to recognize that everyone has capacities to contribute. As the document explains, understanding oneness not only “overrides[s] differences that arise on account of birth or upbringing, but it also inspires action by uniting people and leading them to cooperate, to form relationships and build communities.”

Without understanding that oneness, we will never move past rhetoric into sustainable action that values the input of those with knowledge, regardless of their background or gender.