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Global Citizen Election Guide: Where Every Party Stands on Gender Equality, Refugees, and More

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Information is everywhere. It contradicts itself, often, depending on the newspaper you read. It’s on posters, billboards, and attached to magnets on your family fridge. It leaks into every dusty corner of your Facebook feed, and might change depending on who shares it. With less than a week to go until the June 8 general election, it’s perhaps a useful time to refocus on the facts.

Every major political party has now released its election manifesto, outlining its key promises to deliver in government. Global Citizen meticulously examined each one, and created a brief outline on where they stand on four critically important global issues: extreme poverty, the refugee crisis, the environment, and gender equality. 

So kick back, settle in, and get informed. The quality of your next dinner party conversation depends on it. And then: vote! 

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Extreme Poverty

Defined as living off less than $1.90 a day, 767 million people are trapped in extreme poverty around the world. Since 1990, that figure has been cut in half. But so much more work still needs to be done. Children are twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty in developing countries — globally, 395 million kids fighting to survive. International development helps fight this problems at their root causes. How will each party face the rest of the world?

Conservatives

— Continue to spend 0.7% of gross national income on UK aid to assist developing nations and respond to international emergencies. However, internationally agreed upon rules on assistance must change to reflect new priorities.

— Combat the “the subjugation and mutilation of women”, modern slavery, and sexual violence in conflict. 

— Increase funding for research into medical breakthroughs to fight threats to global health. 

Labour

- Continue to spend 0.7% GNI on UK aid with annual performance reports on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, but will end self-regulation of private contractors hired by the Department for International Development. Aid is to reduce poverty, not increase profits.

- Guarantee least-developed countries continued access to UK market, whilst working with businesses to enforce the Modern Slavery Act.

- Invest in public health, to fight TB, HIV, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and neglected tropical diseases.

Lib Dem

- Maintain commitment to spend 0.7% of UK GNI on aid, in line with the OECD definition, which Lib Dems legislated for in the last Parliament.

- Invest to eliminate within a generation preventable diseases like TB, HIV, and malaria, and support vaccine research.

- Develop a global education strategy to address the urgent funding crisis causing 263 million children to miss out on school.

Green

- Increase the overseas aid budget from 0.7% of GNI to 1.0%.

- Promote an ethical foreign policy that builds capacity for conflict resolution, and ends support for aggressive wars of intervention. 

- Deliver climate justice and promote ecologically sustainable development so that poorer countries can cope with the impacts of climate change.

UKIP

- Close down the Department for International Development. 

 -Reduce the aid budget to 0.2 per cent of GNI over time.

- Commission, equip and staff a Naval Ocean-Going Surgical Hospital (NOSH) to undertake humanitarian missions in peacetime, whilst simultaneously expanding Britain’s naval capabilities.

SNP

- Hold UK government to its commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on aid.

- Ensure overseas aid funding meets the internationally-recognised Development Assistance Criteria and does not undermine public services in developing countries.  

- Scottish government would be one of the first anywhere in the world to commit to meeting the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development, both at home and overseas

Related Stories May 19, 2017 Yes! UK Political Parties Commit to Protecting Overseas Aid

Refugees

65.3 million people have been forcibly displaced around the world — half of whom are children. 21.3 million are officially recognised as “refugees” by definition: “persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, [or] membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” We are faced with the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War. Germany welcomed 1 million refugees in 2015, but how will each party tackle a problem that’s only getting worse?

Conservatives

- The current system is geared towards those young and fit enough to make the journey to Britain. They will increase support to the most troubled regions instead.

- Work to reduce asylum claims in Britain. 

- Review international legal definitions of asylum and refugee status.

Labour

- Never scapegoat refugees and asylum seekers. 

- Uphold the Refugee Convention, and offer a safe haven to those fleeing from persecution and war.

- Within first 100 days, produce a cross-departmental strategy on refugee crisis.

Lib Dem

- Offer safe and legal routes to the UK for refugees to prevent them from making dangerous journeys. For example, reform family reunion rules to make it easier for refugees to join relatives already living in safety in the UK.

- Expand the Syrian vulnerable persons resettlement scheme to offer sanctuary to 50,000 people over the lifetime of the next parliament.

- Reopen the Dubs unaccompanied child refugee scheme, which would take in 3,000 lone minors. Children would get indefinite leave to remain, meaning they would not be deported on turning 18.

Green

- Applications for refugee status should take no longer than three months. Applicants should be able to access public services after this time.

- Create a humane immigration and asylum system that recognises and takes responsibility for Britain’s ongoing role in causing the flow of migrants worldwide.

- In the long term, they would work towards the closure of Yarl’s Wood and the abolition of immigration detention centres, allowing their claims to be dealt within the community.

UKIP

- Will comply fully with the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and honour our obligations to bona fide asylum seekers. 

- Use the NOSH ship to provide relief to refugees in war zones.

SNP

- Reinstate the Dubs scheme for unaccompanied child refugees to ensure safe and legal routes are open.

- Take action on the recommendations of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees, including implementing a National Refugee Integration Strategy that ensures all agencies coordinate support for refugees to contribute to society.

- Simplify the Dublin Regulation process, so those with family in the UK can be more easily reunited with them. 

Related Stories Feb. 8, 2017 The UK Just Scrapped Its Promise to Take In Unaccompanied Child Refugees

Environment

Last year, the UK ratified the historic Paris agreement, a global consensus to tackle climate change. With the US reportedly pulling out, it’s more important than ever to commit to a global plan — the future of our planet is at stake. The proof is in the pudding, or, rather, the pledges. Here’s what every party has to say on protecting the environment.

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Conservatives

- Work towards meeting the 2050 goal of reducing emissions by 80% from 1990 levels.

- Champion greater conservation co-operation within international bodies, protecting rare species, the polar regions and international waters.

- Work with our Overseas Territory governments to create a Blue Belt of marine protection in their precious waters, establishing the largest marine sanctuaries anywhere in the world.

Labour

- Labour will protect the Paris Agreement — they will deliver on international commitments to reduce emissions while also mitigating the impacts of climate change in developing countries.

- Last year, fracking came back in a big way. Labour will ban it once more.

- A Clean Air Act will be pushed forward to tackle illegal air quality.

Lib Dem

- Propose a Green Transport Act: a diesel scrappage scheme, a ban on the sale of diesel cars and small vans in the UK by 2025, and ultra-low-emission zones to 10 more towns and cities. 

- Pass a Zero-Carbon Britain Act to set new legally binding targets to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2040 and to zero by 2050. Support Paris Agreement, and aim to produce 60% of energy from renewables by 2030.

- A Liberal Democrat government would also ban fracking again.

Green

- Replacing fracking, coal power stations, subsidies to fossil fuels and nuclear with the clean green efficient renewable energy of the future, and investing in community owned energy.

- Pass an Environmental Protection Act to safeguard and restore our environment, protect and enhance biodiversity, promote sustainable food and farming, and ensure animal protection.

- Work actively with businesses and other countries to limit global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees and aiming for 1.5 degrees.

UKIP

- Withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, to enhance our industrial competitiveness. 

- Repeal the Climate Change Act, that aims to cut greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050.

- Invest in fracking.

SNP

- Press the government to include onshore wind, the lowest cost renewable energy technology, in its industrial strategy.

- Call on the UK government to match the approach of the Scottish Government with a dedicated Climate Justice Fund.

- Work to ensure low cost green energy schemes get the long term certainty needed to support further development and reductions in cost.

Related Stories Nov. 18, 2016 It’s Official! UK Signs Paris Climate Change Agreement

Gender Equality 

It’s 2017, but women still earn less than men. Internationally, one in three women will face physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. In the UK, young girls miss school because they cannot afford sanitary pads during their periods. Is Britain still “Great” when it barely makes the top 50 in the parliamentary equality league table? These are difficult questions, and require comprehensive answers.

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Conservatives

- Require companies with more than 250 employees to publish more data on the gender pay gap.

- Improve take-up of shared parental leave and help companies provide more flexible work environments that help mothers and fathers to share parenting.

- There is currently no statutory definition of domestic violence and abuse. By bringing forward a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill, they will enshrine a definition in law, in order to improve prosecution.

Labour

- Just like Macron in France, women will take up at least 50% of any Labour cabinet.

- Presently, abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland. Labour will bring this to an end, in line with Welsh, English, and Scottish law.

- Labour will appoint a A Violence Against Women Commissioner to enforce minimum standards in tackling domestic and sexual violence, and provide stable central funding for women’s refuges and rape crisis centres.

Lib Dem

- Decriminalise the sale, purchase, and management of sex, reducing harm, defending sex workers’ human rights, and focusing police time and resources on those groomed, forced or trafficked into the sex industry. They would also provide additional support for those wishing to leave sex work. 

- Aim to end female genital mutilation worldwide within a generation.

- Address period poverty by providing free sanitary products to girls at school.

Green

- Implement a UK-wide strategy to tackle gender based violence, including domestic violence, rape and sexual abuse, FGM and trafficking.

- End the gender pay gap, and require a minimum 40% of all members of public company and public sector boards to be women.

- End criminalisation of the purchase and sale of sex, whilst removing prosecutions for sex work from existing criminal records, enabling sex workers to seek alternative employment should they wish to do so.

UKIP

- Annual physical checkups on young girls who are deemed to be “at risk” from FGM until the age of 16, with additional checkups on girls when returning from countries where FGM is practised.

- Prosecute all cases of child and forced marriage.

- Ban wearing of the niqab and the burqa in public places

SNP

- Call for tough new action to close the gender pay gap.

- Will ensure there’s a clear timetable to take action on the Istanbul convention, an international treaty that commits to fund rape crisis centres and women’s refuges.

- Vote for a change in the Equality Act to strengthen and change the law that currently allows employers to have different dress codes for men and women

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