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Women and Children’s Education

Volume 639: debated on Wednesday 18 April 2018

3. What steps she is taking to help enable access to education for women and children in developing countries. (904703)

The UK is a major investor in education generally and in girls’ education specifically. Yesterday, the Prime Minister committed £212 million through the Girls’ Education Challenge to ensure that almost 1 million girls across the Commonwealth, including the most marginalised, can get the quality education they need to fulfil their potential.

I thank my hon. Friend for the work that she is doing in this important field. I join her in celebrating the Girls’ Education Challenge—the programme supported so strongly by her Department. Will she update the House on the future of this programme going forward?

My right hon. Friend is right to highlight the amazing work of the Girls’ Education Challenge, which is the world’s largest girls’ education programme. Yesterday’s announcement of £212 million will support 920,000 girls in Commonwealth countries and give 53,000 highly marginalised adolescent girls in Commonwealth countries the opportunity to have a second chance at learning.

Does the Minister agree that one thing that inhibits girls’ access to education is early motherhood? What steps are the Government taking to ensure excellent family planning and contraceptive services in developing countries?

We remain strongly committed to our family planning programme, under which we work in a variety of different ways, whether through provision of family planning services directly or advice to girls in schools, to try to ensure that girls are not getting pregnant during their education.

Sadly, parents in developing countries are sometimes persuaded to give up their children to orphanages on the promise of a good education. The charity Home for Good told me this morning that the Australian Parliament is looking at measures to tackle orphanage trafficking as part of its modern slavery legislation. Does DFID have any plans to amend our legislation similarly?

DFID’s policy on orphanages is not to fund those establishments. On my right hon. Friend’s point about whether UK legislation, which has led the world in tackling the terrible issue of trafficking, should be amended, we will certainly be discussing that with Home Office colleagues.

Does the Minister agree that one of the most disruptive things in a family’s education is when a member of that family is killed by the greatest epidemic of our times—unnecessary, preventable road deaths, which kill 1.3 million people a year on our planet?

I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman for his amazing work as a United Nations envoy on this important issue. It is important not only that children can go to school but that they can get to school safely. That is why DFID funds a range of different programmes to tackle the problem.