UN Women is an important organisation and partner in the global fight to deliver gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment. The UK Government provide £12 million a year in core annual funding support for that organisation.
Budget day on 8 March is also International Women’s Day. Given that 93 countries have already made firm commitments to the UN’s Step It Up initiative, will the Minister now set that date as a deadline for the UK to make its formal commitment and show that it is fully engaged in international action to combat gender inequality?
The UK is a world leader in combating gender inequality. Since 2011, more than 5 million girls have been through education thanks to the work of the UK. We have seen 10 million women get access to modern family planning, and have saved more than 100,000 lives in childbirth. We have seen 36 million women given better access to financial services. Women’s empowerment and gender equality are key parts of what we do and of what this Government do, and we intend to continue to deliver on that.
The hon. Lady, of course, expresses her concern for some of the most vulnerable children, including girls, in the world who have suffered such terrible persecution and problems in the countries from which they have fled. The UK is the second largest donor in the region, and we can assist many more by helping where the need is most immediate. We must always be careful to ensure that steps taken by the UK Government do not inadvertently facilitate further trafficking and difficult journeys. We must channel money to where it can have the most impact and help the most people.
The UK is a global leader in the area of family planning. The Secretary of State is bringing together a significant family planning conference, which the UK will host in the coming months. We need to ensure that where we are able to help people to lead better lives, to deliver economic growth, and to empower women and deliver on gender equality, we continue to be a global leader in that space. That is what we will continue to do. Of course, we always have to adapt to decisions made by our international partners.
Despite the leading role that the former Prime Minister played in shaping the sustainable development goals globally, there has been slow progress domestically. Will the Secretary of State update the House on the progress of implementing the goals across Government Departments?
The global goals are absolutely embedded not just in what the Department for International Development does, but across Government. As I may have mentioned in response to other questions, we are in the process of revising every single departmental plan across Government, and the global goals will be fully recognised in that process.