The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) recently released its first International Women and Girls Strategy for 2023-2030. The strategy highlights the UK government's approach towards promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls across the world through a re-commitment to the 3 ‘Es’:
Empowering women and girls and championing their health and rights, and
The UK government commits to working in partnership with grassroots organisations and civil society, other governments, and the private sector in order to achieve their goals. In the strategy, we are provided with an overview of the current global landscape of gender equality and empowerment which states that whilst positive progress over the past few decades has been made, there exist significant threats to these gains (namely the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty, conflict, and humanitarian crises, technological changes, and harmful gender norms).
The three priorities
Educating girls: this first priority sets out the commitment to ensure all girls have access to quality education through increasing access, improving quality, and promoting gender-sensitive teaching practices. Pivotal to achieving this however is the support of initiatives which address systemic barriers to education such as child marriage, gender-based violence, and poverty.
Empowering women and girls and championing their health and rights: the second priority outlines a commitment to increasing women's participation in decision-making processes and promoting their leadership and voice. The strategy also highlights support for initiatives around economic empowerment, such as increasing access to employment opportunities and promoting better working conditions. Additionally, the strategy features the promotion of women's sexual and reproductive health and rights by ensuring access to adequate and accessible health services, contraception, and safe abortion.
Ending violence: the third priority reveals the UK government’s aims to respond to and prevent all forms of violence against women and girls through the support of legal and policy frameworks, improving access to healthcare and counselling services, and promoting prevention programmes which challenge harmful gender norms and behaviours in communities.
BEI has had a focus in this area, promoting the expertise of its members and their real world experience in developing and delivering initiatives in support of Women and Girls. In recognition of this, in January 2023, BEI convened a new Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Working Group to discuss the needs of marginalised members of society and how to better address the challenges faced by these groups across sectors of healthcare, education, climate change, humanitarian relief, and economic empowerment. The group is currently working on a new report which will aim to demonstrate our members’ expertise and advocate for the delivery of GESI across international development interventions. This report will provide a foundational document to highlight the capabilities of UK-based organisations to support the evolving FCDO’s ODA agenda.
BEI and its members welcome the strategy and look forward to the opportunity to discuss its successful implementation in more detail with members of the FCDO and wider stakeholders. With this in mind, we have a few key dates in the diary already:
On 12th April, BEI will host an event with the FCDO Girls' Education team to showcase their flagship program, the Girls' Education Challenge. The panel event will include presentations from the alliance partners who have played a crucial role in implementing girls' education programs across 17 countries over the past decade. During the second part of this event, FCDO will open the floor to our panelists and the event’s attendees seeking input into how the FCDO should continue to support the world’s most marginalised girls through education. This event will provide a great opportunity for our members to discuss their thoughts and input on the recently published strategy.
On 25th May, BEI’s GESI Working Group will launch their first report which showcases their capabilities in delivering GESI projects internationally, as well as the approach they believe is necessary to adopt so as to realise the aims of the FCDO and wider international agreements surrounding equality and inclusion.
If you would like to know more about this Working Group or would like to participate directly, please contact Lara Mattaliano.