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UK’s Presidency of the G7: Gender Equality

Volume 696: debated on Wednesday 26 May 2021

What steps she is taking with the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs to promote gender equality through the UK’s presidency of the G7. (900679)

We have a huge opportunity, as we recover from covid-19, for women across the world to build back better. That is why I have convened a group of leaders in the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council, under the leadership of Sarah Sands, to push for better education for women and girls, economic empowerment and ending violence against women across the world.

I thank my right hon. Friend for her response; that is great news. Can she tell me whether the Gender Equality Advisory Council will be working to improve women’s and girls’ participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and industries?

I am pleased to say that the GEAC is packed with inspirational STEM leaders, such as Professor Sarah Gilbert, who spearheaded the Oxford vaccine, and the CERN director general Dr Fabiola Gianotti; they are leading figures. A key aim of the GEAC is to ensure that more girls and women are involved in the industries of the future such as technology and science, so that they can get those well-paid jobs and help to drive forward progress across the world.

At the G7 summit in August 2019, the Government made three commitments for domestic progress on gender equality: delivery of the Domestic Abuse Bill; reform of parental leave; and action on workplace sexual harassment. But last year just 3.5% of fathers took shared parental leave, and the TUC found that one in two women experience sexual harassment at work. We are still waiting for the Government to respond to consultations on both those issues. What does the Minister think it says about her record that only one of those commitments has so far been completed? When will she bring forward reforms to these schemes?

As the hon. Member points out, we have brought forward and enacted the leading Domestic Abuse Act 2021. The Minister for Safeguarding is on the Front Bench; she has done a fantastic job on that. We will shortly be bringing forward the response on sexual harassment. Moreover, I want to ensure that at this year’s G7 leaders across the world are held to account for their record in protecting women and girls.