UK unveils global strategy for women and girls to combat worldwide gender inequality
The strategy puts a continued focus on educating girls, empowering women and girls, championing their health and rights and ending gender-based violence
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (2R) looks towards a sign for International Women’s Day as he exits number 10 Downing Street on March 06, 2023 in London, England. International Women’s Day serves as a focal point in the women’s rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women, and will fall this year on March 8, 2023. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
On International Women’s Day (08), the British government unveiled a new strategy aimed at addressing global gender inequality by confronting attempts to restrict women’s rights and collaborating with global partners to achieve the same.
The UK government’s official release indicated that, for the first time, the strategy pledges that over 80 per cent of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office’s (FCDO) bilateral aid programmes will prioritise gender equality by 2030.
The government discussed gender equality, highlighting that women and girls are disproportionately impacted by climate change and humanitarian crises. Additionally, there are efforts to curtail women’s rights in countries such as Iran and Afghanistan, while sexual violence persists in conflicts such as Ukraine and beyond, and online violence against women is on the rise.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said, “Advancing gender equality and challenging discrimination is obviously the right thing to do, but it also brings freedom, boosts prosperity and trade, and strengthens security – it is the fundamental building block of all healthy democracies.”
“Our investment to date has improved lives around the world, with more girls in school, fewer forced into early marriage and more women in top political and leadership roles,” he added.
In the statement, the Secretary further emphasised that the progress made so far is increasingly vulnerable, and that concerted efforts are necessary to address persisting inequalities at every possible opportunity.
During his visit to Sierra Leone, he will introduce the new strategy while touring a school and hospital in Bo, his mother’s hometown, to witness the positive impact of UK-backed initiatives on women and girls.
“In the hospital, he will see how UK support is improving blood banks and equipment, increasing electricity access and saving the lives of pregnant women. In the school, he will hear about girls’ aspirations for the future. The UK is supporting students there to talk about preventing violence,” the statement read.
“The strategy puts a continued focus on educating girls, empowering women and girls, championing their health and rights and ending gender-based violence – the challenges the UK believes are most acute,” the statement added.
The UK’s new women and girls’ strategy involves the entire FCDO network of high commissions and embassies worldwide, which will develop tailored plans and raise crucial issues with their respective host governments.
Additionally, the UK will introduce a comprehensive research initiative to inform investment decisions. The Foreign Secretary will also unveil a sub-Saharan Africa-focused sexual and reproductive health and rights programme, with up to £200 million in funding expected to reach 10.4 million women and prevent up to 30,600 maternal deaths, 3.4 million unsafe abortions and 9.5 million unintended pregnancies.
The UK is also separately boosting funding for women’s rights organisations and movements acknowledging the crucial role played by women’s rights organisations and movements in promoting gender equality and safeguarding rights, and amplifying the voices of women and girls at the grassroots level. A significant portion of this £38 million programme will be delivered through a new partnership with the Equality Fund.
Jess Tomlin, co-CEO of the Equality Fund said, “We’re really excited about this partnership because it shows that every sector can come together – with boldness and urgency – to deliver resources to women’s rights organisations everywhere.
“A just, sustainable, thriving future depends on the solutions of feminist movements, and it’s time for all of us to trust and robustly resource their leadership at scale all across the world.”
With inputs from ANI