The Department for International Development has announced new UK aid to help support the voices of women and girls in developing countries, in memory of murdered MP Jo Cox.
The international development secretary Penny Mordaunt paid tribute to Cox and her humanitarian work, and in a speech will call for everyone to “raise their game” in order to make gender equality a reality, ahead of International Women’s Day which takes place tomorrow.
She will announce the new UK aid support of up to £10m which will “help grassroots organisations working on issues that were close to Jo’s heart” in a speech later today.
The one-off competitive UK Aid Direct funding round of up to £10m focuses on two themes said to be close to the former MP for Bradford and Spen’s heart.
These are women’s social, economic and political empowerment, for which grants of up to £100,000 will be available; and strengthening civil society capacity for early prediction of identity-based violence, for which grants of up to £1m will be available.
This is the third round of money from UK Aid Direct, DFID’s centrally managed fund for small and medium sized civil society organisations. The fund supports civil society organisations to deliver sustained poverty reduction and achieve the global goals.
‘A dedicated humanitarian’
Ahead of her speech, Mordaunt said: “Jo was a dedicated humanitarian who fought for gender equality at home and in developing countries and her passion and commitment will continue to support the world’s most disadvantaged and disenfranchised women through these new UK aid grants.
“The MeToo movement has sent shockwaves around the world and given a voice to millions of women, but the majority of women and girls in the poorest countries are still not heard.
“We all have the power to change this injustice and that’s why UK aid is keeping girls in school, stamping out violence and giving a voice to women both at home and in shaping the future of their countries.
“It is only by everyone raising their game and making gender equality a reality that we will build a more peaceful, safe and prosperous world for us all.”
Mordaunt will say that if progress on gender equality is not sped up, the Global Goals will not be met by 2030.
The Jo Cox Memorial Grants will be given to projects in developing countries that are working to get the voices of girls and women heard when holding power-holders to account, helping them find jobs and become financially independent and making access to family planning services easier.
The fund will also help strengthen grassroots organisations’ capacity for predicting identity-based violence earlier.
Jo Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater said: “It’s wonderful to have the Jo Cox Memorial Grants being launched today - for every life that is touched by these grants, they will make a real difference and they will be money well spent.
“It’s so fitting to have these grants created in Jo’s name, which will reach a range of different countries and projects that encompass Jo’s passion for both women’s empowerment and bringing local communities together.
“Jo spent 20 years working in the voluntary sector and working overseas. These grants are a reminder of that and a reminder of her passion and her determination to hopefully inspire others with similar desires. Jo would be over the moon.”
Applications for the news funding will open on Wednesday 4 April, more information on eligibility and how to apply is available here.
£1.5m fund to tackle gender pay gap
Elsewhere the minister for women and equalities has announced a £1.5m fund for projects that support people back to work after taking time out for caring committments.
Amber Rudd said: "It is truly striking that nearly 90 per cent of people out of paid work because they are caring for the home or family are women.
"Too often people struggle to get back into paid work after taking time out to care for others. That is a huge loss not only to those individuals, but to our economy and to businesses all over the country.
"That’s why I’m delighted to announce this government will be launching a £1.5m fund to support people, particularly women, back into work after time out looking after children and other relatives.
"By offering meaningful work that pays, the fund will give people who want to return to employment the opportunity to use their valuable skills, talents and experience.
"A toolkit and guidance have been created to support companies that would like to employ returners. The guidance, which was developed by Timewise and Women Returners, is aimed at employers across sectors and of all sizes. The toolkit, sponsored by Vodafone, explains the business benefits of employing returners."
The deadline for expressions of interest is 20 March. More details here.