UK aid is committed to improving the lives of women and girls in the world’s poorest countries
We are committed to improving the lives of girls and women in every area of our work, from education to maternal and child health, from safety and security to economic and political empowerment.
Girls and women need to be at the heart of everything we do if we want to help stop poverty before it starts. For example, we know that getting girls into school begins a chain reaction of further benefits. Educated women have better maternal health, fewer and healthier children and increased economic opportunities. They are also more likely to send their own children to school – creating a virtuous circle of opportunity and prosperity.
And we know that we can transform girls' lives if we can reach them early enough. By giving girls greater choice and control over the decisions that affect them we can help to break the cycle of poverty between one generation and the next.
A new way forward
Our strategic vision for girls and women, published on 8 March 2011, builds on the commitments set out in our business plan. We will focus our work in four areas, increasing the transformative impact that UK aid will have on the lives of girls and women around the world:
Delay first pregnancy and support safe childbirth
UK aid will help to save the lives of at least 50,000 women during pregnancy and childbirth and 250,000 newborn babies. Our support will also enable at least ten million more women to use modern methods of family planning (of which one million will be girls aged 15-19) and support at least two million women to deliver their babies safely with skilled midwives, nurses and doctors.
Secure incomes and rights for girls and women
By helping 2.3 million women access jobs we will increase their incomes. We will also support 18 million women to access financial services like bank accounts, savings and insurance. And we will support reforms to land and inheritance rights to secure women's rights to own and use property.
Get girls through secondary school
We will increase the numbers of girls in primary and secondary school in all 23 country programmes where we give support to education. DFID will be supporting over nine million children in primary school by 2014, of which at least half will be girls. And by 2014, we will be supporting 700,000 girls in secondary education.
Prevent violence against girls and women
We aim to work in at least 15 countries to address physical and sexual violence against girls and women. We will help to bring perpetrators of violence against women to justice and increase the numbers of survivors who have access to treatment and advice, for example through creating safe spaces for girls and women and working with boys and men to support behaviour change.
Read the full report on what has been achieved one year on from the publication of the strategy: Strategic Vision for Girls and Women: One Year On.
Wider focus on women
We will continue to ensure all areas of our work take the needs of girls and women into account and we will help our 28 focus countries to do the same. We will support women's political participation and improve legal frameworks that protect girls' and women's rights. We will we work with boys and men to re-dress unequal relationships. And we will support women's movements and locally-led social change.
The UK is a strong supporter of UN Women and played a leadership role in its establishment. This new UN organisation is dedicated to gender equality and was established to accelerate progress on meeting the needs of girls and women around the world. It also has the potential to drive a much more effective response to gender inequality across the UN system.
DFID will also work with all UK-funded multilateral organisations to step up progress for girls and women. And we will keep a close eye on the implementation of the European Union commitments on gender equality and women's empowerment in development.