Coronavirus has impacted every aspect of life as we know it, and has entrenched existing attitudes towards gender in many developing nations. The effects of the pandemic have a universality aspect – everyone has experienced loss, illness, economic hardships, and stress, no matter what country they live.
As Britain begins to emerge from the pandemic throughout 2021, we must be at the centre of fighting not only the primary issue, the virus, but also the secondary issues, of which there are many. I f we are to be ‘Global Britain’ and President of both the G7 and COP26, we must lead by example and set the global diplomatic agenda.
The future of international development lies in question after the merger of DFID and the FCO. This merger costs time, money, and productivity, and relegates international development to a footnote in the Cabinet, rather than its own portfolio. What’s more, the UK Government’s decision to cut aid from a target 0.7% of GNI to 0.5% shows a lack of commitment to the developing world and a return to inward-looking diplomacy.
This is why today, on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, I have written to Dominic Raab, the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, to outline my concerns about the emergence of a “shadow pandemic” in the Global South, surrounding female genital mutilation. Britain must be at the forefront of fighting the pandemic globally, but also other issues that have emerged.
For many women and girls, female genital mutilation is a grave risk. A report from UNFPA concludes that an additional 2 million women and girls are now at risk of female genital mutilation. This is a cruel act that has lasting consequences – both physically and mentally.
Some women are unable to walk, others infertile, and many suffer from depression and anxiety . The Government must reaffirm its commitment to supporting women and girls – something they claim to be one of their core tenets – and increase funding for those who need it.
Read what I quizzed Dominic Raab on below.