'The time is now' for girls and women

You are reading this at a vitally important moment for women's rights and gender equality.

We are on the eve of the 57th meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York – the principle global policy making forum dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women.

This year member states are meeting to discuss violence against women and girls.  This is a crucial opportunity to take action on this issue.

Globally one in three women or girls is beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. This is a shocking statistic and evidence, should we need it, that despite the progress that has been made around the globe for women’s rights there is still so much more to do.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Lynne Featherstone is currently in New York, at the Commision on the Status of Women, championing women’s rights and lobbying for strong agreed conclusions amongst Member States and DFID is supporting her in every way we can.  While there’s still a lot more to do, I am proud to say that in DFID girls and women are at the heart of our work to support international development.

Secretary of State Justine Greening has made clear that making progress on womens’and girls’ rights will be a top priority for her at the Department for International Development (DFID).  She will be making a keynote address at Amnesty International UK on Monday setting out what that will mean. (It will be streamed online so watch it here!)

DFID’s strategic vision for girls and women identifies ‘four pillars’ for action which we see as ‘game changers’ for girls and women: education, violence against women and girls, economic empowerment and maternal health.

Thinking about how to achieve the targets we’ve set ourselves has also challenged us to increase our work to create an ‘enabling environment’ for girls and women – this includes giving girls and women greater choice, voice and control over the decisions which affect them. 

We are determined that this commitment will deliver real impact on the ground. In 2011-2012 the UK supported a million women to use modern methods of family planning, improved the land and property rights for at least 210,000 women and supported 2.5 million girls through primary school.

We also recently launched an online campaign – asking you to sign our pledge calling on the UN to take action to stop violence against women and girls. If you haven’t already we would love you to pledge.

There really is a feeling at DFID that the ‘time is now’ for girls and women. The Secretary of State will expand on this more on Monday and I hope you will join us to hear what she has to say.

Joy Hutcheon is the Director General; Country Programmes, and the Gender Champion at DFID, the Department for International Development.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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