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Developing Countries: Females

Volume 498: debated on Monday 26 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he has taken to help increase standards of (a) female literacy and (b) medical care for women and girls in the world’s 10 poorest countries. (293954)

The information is as follows:

(a) The Department for International Development (DFID) is committed to achieving the education millennium development goals of universal primary education and gender parity in education by 2015 and is spending at least £8.5 billion over the period 2006-15 in support of education in poor and developing countries. DFID regards supporting girls’ education as a priority. DFID’s Strategy, Girls’ Education: Towards a Better Future for All (2005) sets out our approach to overcoming the barriers girls face in getting an education—it is available at:

(b) In June 2008, the UK Government made a commitment to spend £6 billion on strengthening health systems and services over seven years to 2015 (plus £1 billion to the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM). The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) event on 23 September highlighted the importance of providing health services free at the point of delivery. The UK-initiated Global Consensus on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health was also widely endorsed. It seeks to make health systems and investments work better for women and children, thus driving up standards. Leaders from Nepal, Malawi, Ghana, Liberia, Burundi and Sierra Leone announced historic shifts towards free health care. Removing the financial barriers to health services and providing services free at the point of use for women and children will ensure that the poorest people, especially women and girls, can access a trained health worker in the right place at the right time with the right infrastructure, equipment and drugs.