Why gender equality must be at the centre of international development

My bill would recognise the primary role of women in water and sanitation projects.

The whole question of the improvement of the lot of those in the developing world is, and should be, a major concern to all right-minded politicians. This is why I strongly support the aid programme and the 0.7% commitment, provided, of course, it is accompanied by a reduction in corruption and is focused on the right objectives, which is to help those who really need help and to help them help themselves.
 
In this, the role of women is paramount. I have been involved in promoting the interests of the poorest countries, particularly in Africa, for decades as chairman of various all-party groups, including sanitation and water, which I set up about five years ago and in which I work very closely with Wateraid and Tearfund.
 
On a visit to India a few years ago, and on which I wrote an article for the Guardian website, I showed how in the slums and among the ragpickers, it is women who are the driving force behind efforts to improve sanitation and water in Delhi and Mumbai. Dividing up the slum areas into sectors, they raise one or two rupees from these desperately poor people, including themselves; but because of the scale of those in deepest poverty, weekly and monthly they raise millions of rupees, which are then invested in localised water and sanitation projects. When I was with the ragpickers, particularly the women, and I asked them what it was they most wanted, they all cried out "Please, we beg of you, give us clean water. This is what we need!"
 
I have been working closely with GREAT Initiative on recent proposals, headed up by Mariella Frostrup and Jason McCue and their team, and with a fair wind and support from the government and the House of Commons which was evident yesterday when I introduced my Gender Equality (International Development) Bill, this Bill, if unopposed, could make it to the statute book. In a nutshell, it would embed the role of women in those areas where we give development assistance and humanitarian help as a prime element in proposed projects to which the Secretary of State would be required to have regard to the role of women. They are, after all, not only prime movers but also about half the population of the world. With goodwill and a mixture of government focus, international cooperation, this could make a real difference. 
A woman collects water from a handpump in the Geneva Refugee Camp in Dhaka. Photograph: Getty Images.

Bill Cash is Conservative MP for Stone and the autor of John Bright: Statesman, Orator, Agitator

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19 things wrong with Daniel Hannan’s tweet about the women’s march

The crackpot and these women.

Since Daniel Hannan, a formerly obscure MEP, has emerged as the anointed intellectual of the Brexit elite, The Staggers is charting his ascendancy...

State of this:

I mean honestly, where do you even begin? Even by Daniel’s rarefied standards of idiocy, this is a stonker. How is it stupid? Let me count the ways.

1. “Our female head of government” implies the existence of “their female head of government”. Which is odd, because the tweet is clearly aimed at Hillary Clinton, who isn’t anybody’s head of government.

Way to kick someone when they’re down, Dan. What next? “So pleased that my daughter received a wide selection of Christmas presents, unlike those of certain families”?

2. I dunno, I’m no expert, but it’s just possible that there are reasons why so few women make it to the top of politics which don’t have anything to do with how marvellous Britain is.

3. Hillary Clinton was not “the last guy’s wife”. You can tell this, because she was not married to Barack Obama, whose wife is called Michelle. (Honestly, Daniel, I’m surprised you haven’t spotted the memes.)

4. She wasn’t married to the guy before him, come to that. Her husband stopped being president 16 years ago, since when she’s been elected to the Senate twice and served four years as Secretary of State.

5. I’m sure Hillary would love to have been able to run for president without reference to her husband – for the first few years of her marriage, indeed, she continued to call herself Hillary Rodham. But in 1980 Republican Frank White defeated Bill Clinton’s campaign to be re-elected as govenor of Arkansas, in part by mercilessly attacking the fact his wife still used her maiden name.

In the three decades since, Hillary has moved from Hillary Rodham, to Hillary Rodham Clinton, to Hillary Clinton. You can see this as a cynical response to conservative pressure, if you so wish – but let’s not pretend there was no pressure to subsume her political identity into that of her husband, eh? And let’s not forget that it came from your side of the fence, eh, Dan?

6. Also, let’s not forget that the woman you’re subtweeting is a hugely intelligent former senator and secretary of state, who Barack Obama described as the most qualified person ever to run for president. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be so patronising as to imply that the only qualification she had was her husband, now, would you?

7. I’d love to know what qualifications Dan thinks are sufficient to become US president, and whether he believes a real estate mogul with an inherited fortune and a reality TV show has them.

8. Hillary Clinton got nearly 3m more votes than Donald Trump, by the way.

9. More votes than any white man who has ever run for president, in fact.

10. Certainly a lot more votes than Theresa May, who has never faced a general election as prime minister and became leader of the government by default after the only other candidate left in the race dropped out. Under the rules of British politics this is as legitimate a way of becoming PM as any, of course, I’m just not sure how winning a Tory leadership contest by default means she “ran in her own right” in a way that Hillary Clinton did not.

11. Incidentally, here’s a video of Daniel Hannan demanding Gordon Brown call an early election in 2009 on the grounds that “parliament has lost the moral mandate to carry on”.

So perhaps expecting him to understand how the British constitution works is expecting too much.

12. Why the hell is Hannan sniping at Hillary Clinton, who is not US president, when the man who is the new US president has, in three days, come out against press freedom, basic mathematics and objective reality? Sorry, I’m not moving past that.

13. Notice the way the tweet says that our “head of government” got there on merit. That’s because our “head of state” got the job because her great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother happened to be a protestant in 1701 and her uncle wanted to marry a divorcee – all of which makes it a bit difficult to say that our head of government “ran in her own right”.  But hey, whatever makes you happy.

14. Is Daniel calling the US a banana republic? I mean, it’s a position I have some sympathy with in this particular week, but it’s an odd fit with the way he gets all hot and bothered whenever someone starts talking about the English-speaking peoples.

15. Incidentally, he stole this tweet from his 14-year-old daughter:

16. Who talks, oddly, like a 45-year-old man.

17. And didn’t even credit her! It’s exactly this sort of thing which stops women making it to the top rank of politics, Daniel.

18. He tweeted that at 6.40am the day after the march. Like, he spent the whole of Saturday trying to come up with a zinger, and then eventually woke up early on the Sunday unable to resist stealing a line from his teenage daughter. One of the great orators of our age, ladies and gentlemen.

19. He thinks he can tweet this stuff without people pointing and laughing at him.

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Daniel Hannan. He is on Twitter, almost continously, as @JonnElledge.