International Development and Gender-based Violence

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 4:15 pm on 26th November 2020.

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Photo of Anthony Mangnall Anthony Mangnall Conservative, Totnes 4:15 pm, 26th November 2020

I will be brief. I thank everyone for turning up to speak in this debate. Fleur Anderson spoke passionately about her experience working with Somali women and with WaterAid in the UK. It is incredible working with her on the all-party parliamentary group on the preventing sexual violence in conflict initiative, and I thank her for her support for my support for an international panel and body. I look forward to working with her on many other such issues.

My hon. Friend Imran Ahmad Khan was kind enough to inform us about his experiences around the world and the moving impact he has had working with different communities. The House is better for having his experience, and the all-party parliamentary group on foreign affairs is lucky to have him as its chair.

My hon. Friend Fiona Bruce spoke passionately, if I may say so. She shifted the focus, rightly, out of conflict zones to an area that also needs redress and resolve. To speak of the justice system as she did was a stark reminder of the lack of justice seen by so many people across the world. Naz Shah also spoke about the need for justice, not only in specific geographical areas, but across the world. She raised the important matter of women in Kashmir. I greatly valued her contribution.

Owen Thompson has always been suspiciously kind to me on a whole host of issues. I am particularly grateful for his support since the day that I gave my maiden speech on this issue. He was right to talk about issues such as the Istanbul convention and to say that leadership is more important than ever. He has a global and local vision. This is not an issue on which the UK can sit on a high horse. Domestic abuse happens within our shores. We have seen how prevalent it has been during the lockdown.

Anna McMorrin has also been kind and direct about what needs to be done. More often than not, UK Aid is seen as the first and last hope. That is incredibly powerful. We are all conscious of the fact that UK Aid, stamped on to humanitarian packages and the backpacks of the people we send across the world to help, is greeted with relief and the understanding that the international community is engaged. Anything that damages that is particularly worrying.

I thank the Minister for his comments. Change does not take decades, but by my count it is taking eight years. We launched the PSVI eight years ago and I think the UK can go further. I want to say a few words about what I have done on this. When I was elected, I wrote to the ambassador of every country that signed the UK’s resolution in the UN on the PSVI. I have had 90 responses to 146 letters. Nearly every one says that they are still waiting for the UK to show leadership on this issue. That is, 90 countries have bothered to respond on this issue, good and bad, and they are asking the UK to continue its leadership. If we do not, we must be prepared to help others lead. That will either be Germany or the United States. I hope that we can find the resolve and determination to do it here and now, with the opportunity presented by the G7 presidency next year. Germany and the US are working very hard on this. If they lead on this, I will be happy to support them with others.

I passionately believe that the UK has a role to play on the international stage not only in defence, but, more importantly, in international development. This issue is a core tenet of international development. I hope that when he goes back to the Foreign Office, the Minister will tell the Foreign Secretary and others that there is a strong group of Members of Parliament who wish to see action on this issue, and that we will continue to raise it at any opportunity we are given.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House
has considered international development and gender-based violence.

Sitting adjourned.