Women for Women International's Response to the UK Government's International Women and Girls Strategy

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Women for Women International's Response to the UK Government's International Women and Girls Strategy

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The UK Government’s International Women and Girls Strategy sets out an ambitious vision for achieving gender equality, but should not be celebrated until it takes the urgent steps needed to turn policy into action.

Today, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) published its long-awaited International Women and Girls Strategy, setting out the UK Government’s approach to achieving gender equality. 

Women for Women International welcomes this strategy and the potential it offers. There is an explicit acknowledgement of the disproportionate impact of conflict and crisis on the most marginalised women and girls; a strong recognition of the urgent need to reverse the rollback we’ve seen on women and girls’ rights; and a clear intention to invest in and support women and girls’ leadership and expertise. We are encouraged by the commitment to centre and partner with women’s rights organisations and welcome the core, flexible and multiyear funding the UK Government is providing to women’s rights organisations, including through the £38 million already being implemented by the Equality Fund. This is essential for driving forward transformative change when it comes to gender equality.  

However, the funding commitments referenced alongside the strategy announcement are a drop in the ocean compared to the gaping hole that has been left by the ongoing cuts to UK ODA since 2021, and which the UK Government’s own Equalities Impact Assessment found had severely impacted women and girls. This is something that we have had direct experience of at Women for Women International. In April 2021, we were towards the end of the second year of an FCDO funded 3-year programme in Bauchi State, Nigeria when we were informed that the entire third year of the project was to be terminated, despite promises already made to the communities we were working in. These decisions have meant more than just numbers in a spreadsheet – they have had real consequences for women and girls, as well as wider community trust and relationships. 

In this context, if the International Women and Girls Strategy is to be at all meaningful, the UK Government must ensure an approach to implementation that is integrated across the whole FCDO, anchored in consultation and delivered in partnership with women’s rights organisations. Crucially, the UK Government must put its money where its mouth is if it is to achieve the goals that the strategy rightly sets out. 

Published 8th March 2023