Gender equality to be considered in UK aid spending

The UK government will consider the impact on women’s and girls’ rights as part of its international aid spending, after a new law is passed promoting gender equality

The new bill will mandate the international development secretary, Justine Greening, to take gender into consideration in all decisions relating to how overseas aid is spent.

According to the BBC, women do an estimated 60% of the world’s working hours, yet earn only 10% of the world’s income and own just 2% of the world’s land.

“Ensuring justice for women and girls is a fundamental human rights obligation and one of the most urgent issues of our time,” said Jacqui Hunt, director of Equality Now, an international human rights organisation.

She welcomed the UK’s lead in linking development and humanitarian funding to gender equality obligations and urged other countries to follow suit.

“Recognition that one of the key priorities for successful international development is the empowerment of women and girls helps to ensure that everyone can reach their full potential and contribute,” said Hunt, who stressed that rather than just supporting women, it would lead to a win-win situation for both genders.

The new International Development (Gender Equality) Act 2014, which came into force on 13 May, was originally proposed by Bill Cash MP. Only 10% of private member’s bills become law in any given year, however this bill received cross-party support as well as endorsement by Justine Greening, the prime minister David Cameron, and non-government organisations including WaterAid, Plan International and the Gender Rights and Equality Action Trust.