A good sign — move for UK aid to target gender

Alan Duncan, U.K.'s minister of state for international development, listens to the story of a beneficiary of a Deparment for International Development-funded program in Nepal. A bill that will require the British government to ensure that its aid helps reduce gender inequality is on its way to the House of Lords. Photo by: Bikas Rauniar / DfID / CC BY-NC-ND

Gender advocates are surely pleased after a bill meant to require the British government to ensure its development aid helps to reduce gender inequalities received enough support on Friday to move to the House of Lords.

Aid groups backing the bill see Friday’s development as a “good sign” for the gender equality bill, which has received much success following its introduction into parliament in June.

Unlike most private member’s bills, this one has passed all three readings at the House of Commons, was not prevented to reach a vote and enjoys the support of both Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening and Prime Minister David Cameron.

It’s too early to tell how the bill will fare at the House of Lords, or if it will finally become law — but it would be interesting to see how it could change the government’s approach to addressing gender inequality in its aid programs.

VSO India gets some of its support from VSO U.K., which in turn gets funding from the Department for International Development, Rimmy Taneja, the organization’s overall program manager, told Devex.

But while Taneja — an expert on gender equality — would not comment specifically on the U.K.’s performance on the issue of gender equality, as she says it would require some careful evaluation on their part, she said it would be helpful if donors such as DfID understand the interrelatedness of the different dimensions of gender inequality, and for instance allot a specific budgetary allocation for training implementers.

“If the structural causes are not addressed, no matter what you do for gender mainstreaming, it will not have the desired results. Looking at it holistically is important, and the linkages [such as between girls’ education and why could they be dropping out of school] have to be understood,” she said. “It’s not just the numbers; qualitative indicators also need to be look at [but] often they are neglected.”

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.