The Government have again failed to commit to the UN’s “Step It Up For Gender Equality” initiative despite being a leading country opposing gender inequality following a challenge from Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham.
In September 2015 the UN Member states adopted the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. It’s a universal roadmap for people and the planet, addressing key challenges of the 21st century, such as climate change and inequality. One of the goals within this road map provides a framework to address structural barriers to women’s empowerment.
This goal has now become a stand-alone initiative called “Step It Up.” It has been set up to encourage governments to make national commitments that will close the gender gap by 2030.
The initiative has many actions that could be taken to close the gap and address issues that girls and women face. Some of the actions agreed upon are strengthening existing laws and making new ones to creating programmes.
Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, raised the issue in the Commons yesterday asking:
“Budget day on 8 March is also International Women’s Day. Given that 93 countries have already made firm commitments to the UN’s Step It Up initiative, will the Minister now set that date as a deadline for the UK to make its formal commitment and show that it is fully engaged in international action to combat gender inequality?”
Sadly responding for the Government, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, James Wharton MP refused to back the initiative choosing instead to address a series of statistics about other government initiatives.
I recognise and support the work the Government has done as part of other initiatives but the Step It Up one is very specific and it is deeply disappointing that the Minister simply sidestepped the matter and choose not to show his commitment to it.