Violence Against Women and Girls

The UK has played a leading role in tackling VAWG world-wide, I know it will continue to be a top Department for International Development (DFID) priority. Women need voice, choice and control over their lives. No country will develop if half their population is treated unequally and women live in fear of violence. The UK worked hard to lead efforts across the globe to ensure that a target to end violence against women and girls formed part of the agreed UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Since 2012, the number of DFID programmes addressing VAWG has increased by 63 per cent to 109 programmes in total, and 19 focus entirely on VAWG. DFID's £35 million programme to tackle Female Genital Mutilation - the largest of any single country - is helping to reduce the practice by 30 per cent in 17 countries. The UK's £36 million programme to end Child, Early and Forced Marriage also helps thousands of girls escape losing any choice or control over their future.

Involving women's rights organisations in humanitarian preparedness, response, and recovery is one of the themes of a roundtable event at the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016. I hope this Summit will deliver for women and girls everywhere. DFID has contributed £6 million to the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, which provides grants to organisations across the world to tackle gender-based violence, including small women's rights' and youth-led organisations and has committing to increasing its focus on funding to small women's rights organisations.

I am pleased to hear that a Westminster Hall debate on this subject has been secured. Unfortunately, due to existing parliamentary commitments I will be unable to attend the debate, but will continue to follow progress in this area closely.