Britain is to step up efforts to combat abuse of women and girls around the world, international development secretary Priti Patel said this weekend.
Patel says she wants the UK to be a global leader on the issue and is announcing a £6m package of aid to go towards supporting innovative grassroots programmes in 17 countries, dealing with female genital mutilation, child marriage and domestic violence.
This marks a change in tack for the Department for International Development (DfID), and has been welcomed by many in the aid sector, focusing as it does on smaller projects deemed to be making a difference on the ground. The next hurdle for DfID will be scaling up such interventions so that they change more lives.
According to the UN, 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical or sexual abuse at some point in their lives.
Patel said breaking the cycle of abuse was a crucial aim: “We cannot and will not tolerate any form of violence against women and girls. Britain is leading efforts across 30 countries … from ending female genital mutilation and child marriage to preventing domestic abuse. UK aid already helps survivors in some of the world’s poorest countries – now we are stepping up our global leadership and support to protect even more women and girls and address the root causes of violence.”
The investment was announced on the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, which kickstarts 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, a multi-agency campaign which aims to raise public awareness and mobilise people to bring about change.
Patel has set out a new package of support to protect women and girls in some of the world’s poorest countries from such practices. The (DFID) will team up with a range of innovative grassroots organisations with the local knowledge and expertise to drive forward action to protect vulnerable women and girls and support victims.
The money includes £3m to AmplifyChange, a fund which supports 40 small grassroots groups working to address FGM and child, early and forced marriage, taking UK total contribution to the fund to £11million. An extra £2.75m will go to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, which supports organisations across the world to tackle gender-based violence, improve access to services such as legal assistance and healthcare and strengthen laws that protect women and girls.