International Women’s Day gives us an opportunity every year to take stock of the work being done in the UK and around the world to bring equality for women.
This year there are a number of positives to focus on in the UK. The number of women in work is at a record high and the gender pay gap is closing, albeit not as quickly as I would like. This is great news for society because the more balanced the views of decision makers, the better the decisions taken will be.
We have also seen important legislation pass through Parliament on domestic violence. This will improve the lives of women and girls across the UK. There has also been the first conviction for Female Genital Mutilation in the UK Courts. This is a barbaric practice that the Government is rightly focussed on eradicating, due to it bringing physical and mental harm to young girls.
UK Aid is helping improve the lives of women around the world; be it access to family planning, supporting education of girls to give them the skills they need to fulfil their potential, helping women become economically empowered through work, supporting tomorrow’s female leaders and working in 30 countries to end violence against women and girls. This is aid spending at its best! Evidence shows that female empowerment is the best way to improve the economic lives of a community and I applaud the work our country is taking in this regard.
This International Women’s Day I was proud to celebrate the work being done. However, there is more to do. We must not become complacent and instead should renew our focus to encourage and support women taking an active role in leadership roles in business, politics and all sectors of society. We will all reap the benefits!