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Women’s Education

Volume 521: debated on Wednesday 12 January 2011

All my Department’s education programmes will have a focus on girls and young women. We will concentrate on enabling girls to progress through to secondary school, where the largest benefits accrue.

I am glad to hear that the Secretary of State is continuing Labour’s excellent work in this area. Education is important for developing economies, as it is for our own, but can he confirm that he will not drop Labour’s pledge to double support for global education?

We will set out in due course precisely what the results of taxpayer spending will be in respect of education. I hope that we will carry the whole House in focusing directly on the results that we are achieving and spelling out the commitments that we are making not only to British taxpayers but to those we seek directly to help in poor countries.

Can the Secretary of State assure the House that aid money transferred via the European development fund for women’s education or any other project will carry the same transparency and accountability as DFID-related projects?

As my hon. Friend suggests, the EDF is one of the vehicles for achieving that. Along with other members of the European Union, we are leading a drive to increase transparency in the EDF—so far, that message is being reasonably well received. I must point out that although Britain contributes 17% of the EDF’s funding, 40% of that funding is spent in Commonwealth countries.

Will the Secretary of State turn his attention to women in Haiti? One year on from the earthquake, people continue to suffer and an alarmingly high number of women and girls are subjected to rape and sexual violence every day: 250 women were raped in just 150 days after the earthquake. What is he doing to ensure that the British Government, the EU, the UN and the Haitian authorities are doing everything possible to bring an end to that appalling violence?

The hon. Lady is right to target the current position in Haiti, including the great difficulties that the international community has experienced in making its aid effective and the failures of governance and justice that she graphically identified. Britain is not leading on Haiti—the lead is taken much more by the Americans, Canadians and, indeed, the French, but we were extremely supportive in the initial stages in the aftermath of the earthquake that struck Haiti a year ago, and we continue to help, not least in December, with specific interventions to stop the spread of cholera.