International Women’s Day – 8 March 2013

Last Friday was International Women’s Day. This day has been set up to champion the efforts of women across the world and to ensure that greater recognition is given to women’s rights as far as possible. Justine Greening at DFID has been leading calls for the improvement of women’s rights and in her speech at Amnesty International earlier on in the week, she referred to some horrific cases which have featured in the world news where certain women have been subject to gender abuse. As Justine Greening said, this cannot be allowed to continue. Her statistic that “women perform two thirds of the world’s work, produce half of the food, but earn only 10% of the income and own only 1% of the property” is quite staggering and provides ample reason for why this state of affairs needs to be balanced out.

Following the launch of Strategic Vision for Girls and Women back in 2011, DFID has just announced further funding for the provision and distribution of 20 million contraceptive devices internationally, partnership with Sonke Gender Justice in South Africa, the launch of a £25 million Research and Innovation Fund to look into and support the needs of women particularly in the DRC and Syria, an emphasis on increased efforts to end female genital mutilation within a generation, the commitment of up to £11.5 million to a new partnership with the World Bank for a “Gender Innovation Bank” on girls and women’s economic empowerment, UK funding for the Leadership for Change Programme and also the establishment of an Expert Advisory Group on Girls and Women which will conduct research and inform DFID’s work.

The announcement of these measures is to be celebrated. Women’s rights have been neglected in some areas internationally for far too long and its time proper attention was paid to make sure they are properly upheld so that the abuse of women in some areas of the world is no longer as seen as an acceptable. I am glad that DFID is spearheading the campaign to ensure these issues are addressed.

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