Gender adversity - tackling violence against women
Conservative MP Mary Macleod asks what more can be done to prevent violence against women and girls as part of Parliament’s recognition of International Women’s Day
Tackling violence against women and girls is a global struggle. It affects women in all communities and from all backgrounds. The work of the former Foreign Secretary, William Hague, to eliminate sexual violence in conflict, has made a real difference in raising awareness of this issue worldwide. The International Development Secretary, Justine Greening, has ensured that our aid budget helps 2.3 million women overseas to get jobs, supports over 5 million girls to attend school and has a target of reducing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) by 30% in 10 countries by 2018.
At home, we need a zero-tolerance approach to domestic abuse. 1.4 million women experienced domestic abuse last year and every week, two women in the UK are killed by a partner or former partner. But these statistics are just the tip of the iceberg. So many incidents are hidden and go unreported. We need to encourage victims to come forward – but we can only do this when they have the confidence that the police will take their cases seriously, and that there will be a realistic chance of a conviction. I hope that this week’s debate will highlight the importance of both the protection of women affected by domestic abuse – and how we can prevent it too.
It starts with our young people. We need to ensure respect and equality in all relationships at a young age. This Government has worked hard to raise the profile and impact of domestic violence with young people. It is one of the first things I mention when I visit my schools and I insisted that children from local schools were invited to my London Domestic Abuse Summit with the Home Secretary in Chiswick – the site of the world’s first refuge for women. Many readers will also have seen the ‘This is Abuse’ campaign, aimed at preventing teenagers from becoming victims – and perpetrators – of abusive relationships.
That’s why it’s so important that on Thursday, we will have over 75 young women from across the country joining us in Parliament as part of our International Women’s Day celebrations. MPs from all parties have been asked to invite a sixth form girl from their constituency to come to Westminster and shadow them for the day. I hope that every girl will have a chance to see some of the debate and learn more about violence against women and girls and think about what we – and they - can do to stamp it out.