Ending violence against women and girls (VAWG Campaign)

The UK has played a leading role in tackling VAWG world-wide, I know it will continue to be a top Department for International Development (DFID) priority. No country will develop if half their population is treated unequally and women live in fear of violence.

Since 2012, the number of DFID programmes addressing VAWG has increased by 63 per cent to 109 programmes in total, and 19 focus entirely on VAWG. DFID's £35 million programme to tackle Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) - the largest of any single country - is helping to reduce the practice by 30 per cent in 17 countries. The UK's £36 million programme to end Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM) also helps thousands of girls escape losing any choice or control over their future.

To prevent VAWG we need to examine the deep-seated attitudes and social norms that allow this violence to exist. Following the Girl Summit in 2014, the International Development Secretary announced funding to support Amplify Change which supports civil society activists in their work to end CEFM and FGM and to address broader gender issues.

I welcome the new Global Goals for Sustainable Development agreed at the UN. The UK successfully pushed for Goal 5 on gender equality, including targets on CEFM, FGM, and - against strong resistance - sexual and reproductive rights. DFID has backed this up by committing £15 million to help stop VAWG in Ghana, where 40 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 have experienced physical or sexual violence. This will give thousands of teenage girls a safe space to learn about their rights, healthy relationships, and sexual and reproductive health. The programme will also work with adolescent boys to challenge existing attitudes and encourage non-violent relationships.

Involving women's rights organisations in humanitarian preparedness, response, and recovery is one way to ensure that the unique needs of women and girls are addressed and that the capacities of women and girls are recognised and utilised. This is one of the themes of a roundtable event at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016. I hope this Summit will deliver for women and girls everywhere. DFID has contributed £6 million to the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, which provides grants to organisations across the world to tackle gender-based violence, including small women's rights' and youth-led organisations and has committing to increasing its focus on funding to small women's rights organisations.

I know that a number of my colleagues have balloted for a Parliamentary debate on this important issue.