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Post-MDG Framework (Women and Girls)

Volume 545: debated on Wednesday 23 May 2012

8. What steps he has taken to ensure that women and girls are central to any consultation on a post-millennium development goals framework. (108779)

We are very pleased that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has been asked by the United Nations Secretary-General to co-chair the high-level panel on a framework to replace the millennium development goals. That process will of course need to be open and consultative, and I am confident that the voice of girls and women, who are often among the world’s poorest people, will be heard. [Interruption.]

There are a lot of noisy private conversations taking place. Let us have a bit of order for Mrs Sharon Hodgson.

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.

I thank the Minister for his response and welcome the UK’s customary leadership on this issue. He mentioned the voice of the poorest, among whom the hardest to hear are often women and girls. I am sure he agrees that their voice is the most important one that needs to be heard in order to develop the framework following the millennium development goals. What plans has he in place to ensure that their voice is heard, and what is his timeline for such a framework?

The hon. Lady will be aware that this is work in progress and that a series of meetings and consultations is being initiated. I can give her an absolute assurance that we are building on the success of the current MDG framework, but we also need to learn from its gaps and weaknesses. Part of doing so is making sure that, in addition to providing simple and clear aims, we consult widely and ensure that we reflect the fact that the world has changed, rather than the past. That includes the importance of the views of girls and women in the future.

As the Minister knows, I have welcomed the Prime Minister’s appointment to co-chair the UN panel on the new millennium development goals framework. However, unlike his predecessors—Tony Blair and my right hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath (Mr Brown)—this Prime Minister has shown no inclination at the G8, G20 or EU summits to champion the importance of development. Will the Minister explain the core values that will underpin the UK’s approach to a new global development framework, and can he bring himself to utter the words “social justice and human rights”?

In an area where normally there is a degree of consensus across the House, I am deeply disappointed that the hon. Gentleman should choose to suggest that there is any diminution in our effort. I would argue that the opposite is the case; at the first G8 meeting, there was a clear focus on development by the Prime Minister, and only last week we had the whole focus on food and nutrition. It does not serve the hon. Gentleman well to seek to make a political point out of something that simply has no legs.