Here’s How Global Citizens Shaped the UK Government’s First 100 Days
There's good news, and there's bad news.
To say that UK politics has had a turbulent year is an understatement. In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union which led to the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron. After a very quick leadership contest, former Home Secretary Theresa May was appointed Prime Minister, and with her, a new cabinet of Ministers to lead the country.
The first 100 days of any new government are crucial. Within this short time ministers and departments set their agenda and priorities for the years to come. That’s why we asked Global Citizens like you to call on this UK government to make three key commitments within its first 100 days in office. Targeting Priti Patel, the Secretary of State for International Development, you asked her to do the following:
— Keep the UK’s promise to the poorest and most vulnerable in the world by protecting the international aid and development budget.
— Empower girls through education by providing long term funding for the Girls’ Education Challenge.
— Invest in eradicating the horrific and deadly disease, polio.
Now, as the first 100 days come to an end, Global Citizens have taken an amazing 61,000 actions calling on May's government to make these life-saving commitments. Did we win? The results are in.
The UK Reaffirmed Its Commitment to Spend 0.7% of National Income on Aid
Last year the UK made history when it became the first G7 country to not only meet the UN promise to spend 0.7% of its gross national income on aid, but to write this pledge into law. After the tumultuous summer and much political upheaval, it was uncertain whether the new government would continue to support this life-saving law. Immediate action was needed.
Thousands of you called on the government to reaffirm this commitment and they did. Earlier this year, both the Prime Minister and Secretary Patel confirmed that the government will honour its commitment to the world's poorest. While Secretary Patel's public statements reveal a renewed emphasis on the national interest, it is important that we ensure alleviating poverty is the number one priority.
The UK Needs to Do More to Empower Girls Through Education
In 2015/2016, 63 million girls were estimated to be out of school. The number has since risen dramatically due to the release of new data, meaning the problem is more urgent than ever. Young girls today are the leaders of tomorrow but too often they are denied the chance to take control of their future, simply because they cannot go to school. The impact this has on their lives can be devastating. Girls who are not properly educated are more likely to live in extreme poverty and to lead less healthy and productive lives.
Earlier this year, because of the actions of Global Citizens, the UK government made a commitment to provide an additional £100 million through the Girls’ Education Challenge to help girls who have dropped out or never attended school due to family crises, poverty, child marriage or early pregnancy. The funding will be used to continue to support one million disadvantaged girls across the developing world. The funding will also help to get an additional 175,000 of the poorest, most marginalised girls in the world to get a quality education.
As fantastic as this was, the funding would only last one year. If we are to make substantial progress on girls’ education, it’s crucial that countries like the UK provide a longer term plan to tackle this issue. That’s why thousands of you called on the UK Secretary of State to provide funding for the Girls’ Education Challenge up to the next general election in 2020.
Unfortunately, despite all of your emails to the Secretary of State, the UK government has made no new funding announcements. That’s not to say that the campaign is over, far from it, actually. Both gender equality and education are still key components of the UK’s international development work, so we’ll continue to work with the government to ensure that all girls everywhere have the right to a quality education, regardless of where they’re born.
The UK Still Needs to Step Up Funding for Polio Eradication
For as long as human beings have roamed the earth, polio has existed. It’s a horrific disease that can maim, paralyse, and even kill babies and young children. Luckily, under the leadership of the Global Polio Eradication initiative (GPEI), 99.9% of the disease has been wiped out. But if the world is to rid itself of the disease once and for all, the GPEI needs more funding from countries such as the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Until polio is eradicated for good, children everywhere are at risk.
So far, Global Citizens have taken more than 50,000 actions that called on the Secretary of State to provide funding to end polio for good. And whilst it’s a shame to say that on World Polio Day, the UK has not announced a new pledge, the government has expressed its full support for polio eradication and the efforts of GPEI. All we can say is, watch this space.
Read More: Of All the Problems in the World, Why Polio?
It’s really inspiring to see so many Global Citizens take action on urgent issues such as gender equality, education and eradicating disease. But while the first 100 days are officially over, there is still a long way to go. We will continue to push ahead and call on the UK government to prioritise these vital areas and fulfil its promises to the world's most vulnerable people.
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