The UK is to put greater emphasis on women playing a central role in ensuring global peace and security.
The UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) will be specifically championing girls’ education in Nigeria, South Sudan, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Burma and Afghanistan.
The initiative is part of the FCO’s fourth National Action Plan (NAP) on Women, Peace and Security, launched on Tuesday, setting out the UK’s stance on supporting women in conflict zones.
Minister of state for the FCO and the prime minister’s special representative on preventing sexual violence in conflict, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, said: “Conflict affects whole communities, but women and children are often the worst affected.
“This year the foreign secretary and I will focus on ensuring that girls in the poorest countries in the world receive at least 12 years of quality education because this is the single most powerful spur to development and progress.”
According to the FCO, the UK’s Ministry of Defense has been training and mentoring thousands of African, Kurdish and Iraqi forces on combatting sexual violence in conflict situations.
The government body also said in a statement that UK aid for the Rohingya crisis in Bangladesh is helping provide access to female bathing cubicles and sanitary items for more than 35,000 girls and women, counselling and psychological support for over 10,000 women suffering from the trauma of war and for over 2,000 survivors of sexual violence, as well as medical help for over 50,000 pregnant women to give birth safely.
International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “From Somalia to Syria, and from Burma and Afghanistan, women have been instrumental in the development of the UK’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
“It’s a sad truth that women suffer disproportionately all around the world during times of crisis. It’s essential to harness the huge potential of the next generation to work toward a more secure, more prosperous future. We know that women can be agents of change which is why the Department for International Development is placing women at the very heart of its peace, security, education, and humanitarian programs.”