West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas has used a debate to mark International Women’s Day to press the Government to rethink its decision to cut the International Aid budget.
Mr Thomas is a strong supporter of the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals, of which the UK is a signatory, and believes that delivering them will proportionately have a greater impact on women and girls.
Last autumn, Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a temporary reduction in the UK’s aid budget from 0.7% to 0.5% of the UK’s national income, much of which is spent on projects which achieve the Sustainable Development goals, and Mr Thomas believes that this cut will most adversely affect women and girls.
“That is not because the 17 sustainable development goals are targeted specifically towards the life chances and rights of women and girls, but because we know that, sadly, women and girls are most likely to be adversely affected by poverty, prejudice, limited opportunities and poor quality water, to mention just a few of the injustices in the world,” he said.
Included in the 17 sustainable development goals are commitments to eradicate poverty, end hunger, provide good health and wellbeing, ensure access to education, deliver gender equality, provide clean water and sanitation, and give greater access to decent work and economic growth.
These seven goals, said Mr Thomas, “all offer real hope, opportunity and improved life chances for women and girls around the world”.
Mr Thomas argued that UK’s international aid budget had helped to lead the war on forced labour among migrant women and started the crackdown on human trafficking, it had led to African women finding a market for their camels’ milk, it has been essential in the fight to end violence against women and girls in Lebanon and also in addressing the displacement of women due to conflict, climate change and, more recently, the covid pandemic.
He ended his speech, saying: “Will the Government consider what impact cutting international aid will have now and for years to come on the women and girls who need our help if they are to lead full and fulfilling lives?”