Development Process (Women's Participation)

Oral Answers to Questions — Overseas Development – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th March 1987.

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Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich 12:00 am, 16th March 1987

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the specific projects in his present programme of overseas aid that relate to women's participation in the development process.

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

All aid affects women. Examples of projects and programmes with a direct impact on women are given in the booklet "Women in Development", copies of which are in the Library.

Photo of Gwyneth Dunwoody Gwyneth Dunwoody , Crewe and Nantwich

Is the Minister aware that in most Third world countries it is women who do all the hard physical labour, and specific targeting of projects that would help them in training and in agricultural matters would have a direct effect on the standard of living of most difficult areas, particularly those in need of some kind of economic investment?

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

I agree with the emphasis that the hon. Lady places on training. Too few women are on our training programme, and we are taking that point up with the Governments of aid recipient countries.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

Do we not have to be careful not to impose our own standards and mores on other countries? Will my hon. Friend give me an assurance that any pontifications that we make on this matter will be kept to a minumum, as with expressions of our attitude to the internal, domestic and social affairs of other countries?

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

The answer to the first part of the question is yes. The answer to the second part of the question is yes.

Photo of Mr Eric Deakins Mr Eric Deakins , Walthamstow

Is the Minister aware that one way of helping women to take part in the development process in the Third world is to enure that they have full access to information, suppliers and advice generally on family planning so that they can choose for themselves the number of children they will have and their spacing and can preserve their health and play a full part as citizens in the development process?

Photo of Mr Chris Patten Mr Chris Patten , Bath

There is a great deal in what the hon. Gentleman said. In 1985 we spent £15·5 million on population-related activities. I believe that there is a close relationship between the success of population programmes and literacy rates among women.