If UK is concerned about women’s safety, it shouldn’t cut GCRF

Over the past two weeks, the UK has witnessed a resounding public outcry over violence against women over the murder of Sarah Everard in London.

The government has previously made a public commitment to gender equality and women’s rights at home and abroad, saying it is “in the UK’s national interest” because “the empowering women and girls through government work improves peace and stability, economic growth and poverty reduction ”. Now should be the time for politicians to act on those words and show their continued commitment to the United Nations agenda for women, peace and security.

Indeed, in announcing the results of its Integrated Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy Review on March 16, Downing Street reaffirmed its commitment to gender equality, pledging to “build momentum To sexual violence in conflict.

Still, such claims sounded rather hollow given that, days earlier, a very different reality had emerged. It turned out that the government’s decision to reduce official development assistance from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross domestic product resulted in a reduction of 120 million pounds (70% of a year over year) in UK research and innovation, the largest funder of research to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – the fifth of which is gender equality.

Giving up its financial commitments to gender, justice and security sends a clear signal that ‘Global Britain’ – as the government calls it – does not like its partners and cannot do it. confidence in future projects. Therefore, this move is likely to have larger spillover effects on UK foreign relations, security partnerships and global diplomacy.

Most importantly, these drastic cuts to the Global Challenges Research Fund and the Newton Fund will jeopardize the future of leading research centers working on global solutions to the most difficult policy challenges we face today. From climate change and conflict, to health, migration, sustainability and violence against women and girls, these projects fill gaps in our understanding of the gender dimensions of these global challenges.

Most urgently, the cuts will worsen the gender effects of Covid-19 by hitting organizations in conflict-affected countries that work to ensure that women and girls are safe from violence and have access to justice. Despite the 40% increase in domestic violence seen in some countries during the pandemic, less than half of the countries recently polled in a UN Women report consider services to women and girls as an integral part of their coping plans. national and local response to Covid-19. This fuels a culture of impunity and continuous cycles of violence.

As a coalition of academics, practitioners, advocates and activists, the Gender, Justice and Security Hub, led by the London School of Economics, generates innovative and relevant research and analysis on law and policy. This work, funded by the GCRF, is crucial in addressing the causes and consequences of violence and inequality. The evidence is clear: the key to solving many global challenges is to support women‘s rights, enable the effective inclusion of women in decision-making, and ensure that their solutions are heard and considered.

The same government that has publicly committed to fighting violence against women is therefore throwing away the tools it needs to do it well.

Some may argue that cuts in overseas aid are inevitable given the economic downturn and domestic needs resulting from the pandemic and Brexit – and the government itself says the cuts are only temporary. However, his budgetary priorities do not inspire much confidence. At the same time as it announced the cuts in ODA, the government pledged to continue a 40% increase in the UK’s stockpile of nuclear warheads – from 180 to 260. Estimates put the cost at around £ 10 billion over the next 15 years.

UKRI’s £ 120million cut is just over 1% of that figure. It would be much more profitable to continue funding the essential work of women’s organizations and researchers who tackle the root causes of violence, extremism and inequality in our societies. After all, the inability to understand and solve problems today only increases the cost of solving them later.

As for these warheads, whether we increase or decrease their number, the truth remains that they are only useful to our collective security if they remain unused: a vast waste of money that could have been used instead to promote justice. global.

Christine Chinkin is Professor Emeritus of International Law and Founding Director of the Center for Women, Peace and Security at the London School of Economics. Sanam Naraghi Anderlini is Director of the LSE Center for Women, Peace and Security and CEO and Founder of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN).

Mara R. Wilmoth