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Aid Projects (Women)

Volume 82: debated on Monday 1 July 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what measures he has taken to assess the benefits of British aid projects to women in recipient countries.

We take account of the role of women when designing projects. New procedures have been introduced to enable us to assess the benefits derived by women. I have seen these benefits for myself, for instance, when I visited the Orissa family welfare project in India and the Mbeya referral hospital in Tanzania. Recently we redesigned a project in Malawi to ensure that extension services reached women farmers.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one or two projects hardly meet the point and that there is widespread concern that the role of women in development is not sufficiently recognised by his Department? For example, does he have an adviser on the role of women in Third-world countries? If not. will he either appoint one, a woman, or a team, to take this important factor into account in development issues?

We have a social development adviser whose role certainly includes concentration on the implications for women of the projects that we put forward. However, the essential point is that in our procedures for assessing and appraising projects, we consider the impact on women as a matter of course. I believe that that is the right way of doing it, rather than creating a separate department to deal with the matter.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many on this side of the House take a dim view of aid going to one particular quarter? Does he agree that aid should be for everyone in a country affected by problems of this type, not uniquely for women or anyone else?

There is much good sense in what my hon. Friend says. As I have already said, women face many hardships, especially in agriculture, and it is right to consider those. However, I am against the notion that we should split the aid programme into different sectors by age, sex, class, creed or anything.