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UK announces £18m fund to end child marriage in 12 countries, including Bangladesh

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 16th November, 2021 06:04:45 PM
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UK announces £18m fund to end child marriage in 12 countries, including Bangladesh

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Tuesday (Nov 16) launched a major global campaign to stop sexual violence against women and girls in conflict around the world.

Speaking at an event for the Gender Equality Advisory Council (GEAC), established under the UK’s G7 Presidency to support women and girls around the world, the Foreign Secretary, who is also the UK’s Minister for Women and Equalities, kick started a major new push by the UK to shatter the culture of impunity around the use of rape and sexual violence as weapons of war. 

She is bringing together close partners to condemn rape and sexual violence in conflict as a “red line”. All options are on the table, including an international convention, to end such heinous acts once and for all.

The Foreign Secretary also announced that the UK will host a global conference next year to unite the world in action to prevent sexual violence in conflict. The conference will bring together Foreign Ministers from all over the world in support of the campaign to end impunity for violence against women and girls. 

The Foreign Secretary on Tuesday (Nov 16) also announced £18 million of new funding to end child marriage through partners.

 “This funding will benefit women and girls in 12 focus countries, including Sierra Leone, Uganda, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Yemen to tackle child marriage,” she said.

This programme will contribute to the prevention of at least 21 million child marriages by 2024, giving girls greater say and choice over their bodies and futures, she said and added that UK support for this work has already helped avert 25 million child marriages over the last decade.

Liz Truss further said that this investment will strengthen laws and policies, improve girls’ access to sexual and reproductive health services, support girls to access formal and informal education and tackle the harmful beliefs underlying child marriage.

The UK is already a world leader in tackling violence against women and girls, and supporting their rights internationally. While Foreign Secretary, the Prime Minister signed the UK up to the Safe Schools Declaration, committing to protect schools during military operations and armed conflict.

A £3 million boost to organisations on the frontline of tackling violence against women and girls. This will help survivors access health and counselling, as well as helping to prevent violence, including by educating men and boys. This funding will also support work with governments to improve policies and legislation.

£1.4 million of new funding for the Global Survivors Fund, which help support survivors of sexual violence, including through financial support and education.

“In conflicts around the world women and girls continue to face horrific sexual violence, with rape repeatedly used as a weapon of war,” said the Foreign Secretary, who is also  the Minister for Women & Equalities of UK.

 “I am absolutely clear the UK must lead the way to shatter the impunity and indifference in which these acts are carried out. I will make it my mission to work with countries and international partners to establish a new agreement to condemn them as a ‘red line’ and end them for good,” Liz Truss, said adding “Women and girls across the world should live without fear of violence, with access to education and employment, and the chance to reach their full potential.”

Under the UK’s Presidency, G7 countries have committed to get 40 million girls into education and this year the UK hosted the Global Partnership for Education Summit, raising £2.9bn to get children into school. This included £430m pledged by the UK. 

The Foreign Secretary’s campaign will build on years of work carried out by her predecessor William Hague, who set up the Preventing Violence in Sexual Conflict Initiative with UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie in 2012. Lord Ahmad, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative, works directly with the Foreign Secretary on this initiative.