Mercy Corps Statement on U.K. Government’s International Women and Girls Strategy

Mercy Corps is pleased that the UK Government’s Women and Girls Strategy, launched yesterday on International Women’s Day, puts gender inequality at the heart of the UK’s international work. We strongly welcome the Government’s commitment to include a focus on gender equality in more than 80% of its bilateral aid programme by 2030, and, in line with broader localisation priorities, the increased support for local women-led organisations. 

We are also encouraged to see references in the strategy to the UK's fifth Women, Peace and Security (WPS) National Action Plan 2023 to 2027, published last month. However, cohesion between the two strategies and monitoring frameworks require further clarification. We urge the Government to increase the proportion of peacebuilding spending focused on gender equality from 7% to 15% - on par with other donors and meeting the 2010 United Nations recommended target, and to urgently restore the estimated £1.9 billion in aid cuts that underpin the future success of these strategies.

In crisis-affected settings, women and girls face enormous barriers to meaningful and active participation in peace and governance processes despite the vital role they play as engines of peace. A greater spotlight is still needed on women’s vital role in peacebuilding rather than passive victims in conflict and humanitarian crises. 

Mercy Corps' Executive Director in Europe, Harpinder Collacott said:

"We know from our long experience of working with communities - and especially the most marginalised within them - that investing in women is key to creating stability, driving progress, and building towards a more inclusive, resilient future.” 

“While the U.K. Government’s new strategy is a step in the right direction, I urge the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office to follow through on their promises so we can collectively lead the world on this issue. And that means this strategy will only be as effective as the funding committed to it - I urge the Government to restore the estimated £1.9 billion cut from the aid budget in recent years." 

About Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps delivers its Girls Improving  Resilience  through Livelihoods  +  Health (GIRL-H) program in several countries. Our work on Women, Peace, and Security work aims to advance peace and stability by addressing and mitigating gender dynamics that perpetuate and exacerbate conflict. We strive to eliminate inequitable power dynamics, address the systems that perpetuate discrimination and abuse of power, and foster a culture of equity, integrity, and accountability.