The denial of the rights of women and girls is a grave injustice, and one of the principal underlying causes of poverty worldwide.
In everyday life, countless women and girls experience violence and inequality, and are denied the right to make decisions about their lives and bodies – even more so during times of conflict or natural disaster.
No community can truly prosper when half its citizens are denied the rights enjoyed by the other half.
Our work also benefits men and boys living in poverty, but we put the rights of women and girls at the centre of all that we do.
The UK Government has increasingly prioritised women and girls in its international development and foreign policy. The UK led the world on the international stage by driving the ambition to secure a standalone Global Goal (Sustainable Development Goal 5) to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls by 2030.
Politicians across successive UK governments and different parties, right up to the highest levels, have been international advocates for women’s rights – on issues including girls’ education, preventing sexual violence in conflict and ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health rights and public services.
However, the struggle for gender equality is far from over. ActionAid UK calls on all political parties to commit to:
Spend aid effectively to have the biggest impact on poverty and women’s rights
- Protecting the UK government’s commitment to life-saving international aid through the award-winning Department for International Development.
- Spending our aid on poverty reduction, gender equality and sustainable development, and prioritise working with local women’s rights organisations.
- Maintain and scale up commitments to gender and equality throughout UK aid spending. DFID should continue to prioritise dedicated ground-breaking work on women’s equality and violence against women and girls (VAWG), including further increasing ambition and spending on the flagship ‘What Works’ programme to prevent violence.
- Ensure the UK’s Grand Bargain humanitarian commitments are reflected through DFID’s policy and programmes (with a focus on localisation, women’s leadership and active participation in decision-making and accountability).
- Provide aid funding in a flexible and reliable manner to allow NGOs and other partners to respond to priorities identified by local communities in developing countries.
Place women and girls’ rights at the heart of international policy-making across government
- Ensure policy coherence for sustainable development, with all UK policy-making – including across DFID, FCO, HMT, MOD and DIT — aligned in supporting the rights of the poorest women and girls.
- Ensure the UK’s economic and trade policies work for the world’s poorest and most marginalised women. Adopt a gender-responsive and pro-development trade policy, including through meaningful impact assessments, enhanced preferential market access for developing countries, and by ending investor state settlement mechanisms which grant foreign investors excessive privileges to undermine development and environmental policies.
- Ensure the UK’s climate policy recognizes and addresses the disproportionate impact of climate change on the poorest women and girls. Climate finance should be provided in line with the UK’s commitments to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- Continue to build on the UK’s global leadership on gender and VAWG on the world stage.
- Ratify the International Labour Organisation Convention No. 190 on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, allowing the UK to credibly champion women workers’ rights and protections globally.
- Continue to take a leading role defending human rights across the world, recognising the particular abuse and violence faced by women human rights defenders.
- Remove restrictions on civil society campaigning, including revising the Lobbying Act.