Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Tuesday 28th January 2020

(4 years, 4 months ago)

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Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab)
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My Lords, I too thank my noble friend Lord Collins for instigating this debate and for the invaluable work he and others are doing in the APPG. He and other speakers have made very important points in this debate and I fear that the Minister should prepare herself to hear us all singing from the same hymn sheet—perhaps she will be minded to join in. I am also grateful to Results for its excellent briefing and for the work it is doing in the coalition.

The juxtaposition in Japan of the Nutrition for Growth summit and the beginning of the Olympic Games can have escaped no one. On display in Japan will be thousands of the elite of the elite—Olympians who spend their lives working on strict nutritional regimes to ensure that they are in peak fitness. But these Games will take place when the world will be discussing truly appalling figures of malnutrition and obesity and when the effects of climate change are becoming ever more visible.

One in three children globally suffers from one or more forms of the triple burden of malnutrition, undernutrition and obesity. The effects on children under five will be a defining factor of how they live the rest of their lives. Not only will their health suffer but the effects on their future earning potential will be reduced, with consequences for themselves as well as the societies they live in. Income and wealth inequalities are closely associated with undernutrition, with more complex patterns associated with obesity.

I pay tribute to the work of DfID and the British Government, alongside Japan and Brazil, in appreciating the scale of the problem and mobilising support in 2013 from other countries to pledge money and action to deal with this issue. I am sure that the Minister shares this view, but it would be disastrous if DfID were absorbed into the Foreign Office or if there were not a dedicated Secretary of State sitting at the Cabinet table making the case for the important development role that Britain should play across the globe. DfID was created in 1997 by the incoming Labour Government to give a voice to the voiceless at the highest level, and that is as relevant today as it was then.

The goal of eliminating malnutrition is not something one country—however good its programmes are—can solve in isolation. The money pledged at the 2013 conferences, as has been said, runs out at the end of the year and the concern of this House is that no further DfID money is currently earmarked for nutrition; momentum needs to be maintained if the goal of ending malnutrition in all its forms by 2030 is to be achieved. As noble Lords have said, nutrition underpins all the sustainable development goals, but the challenge is getting greater, with climate change impacting on world food production in vulnerable areas, especially in countries classified as drought-sensitive.

This highlights, as noble Lords have already said, how breastfeeding is crucial during the incredibly important first thousand days of a child’s life. It is one of the most cost-effective interventions for improving the health and survival of children. However, experience from NGOs such as Save the Children shows that during an emergency—such as El Niño—breastfeeding decreases at exactly the same time it is most needed. This can be due to factors such as inadequate food for the mother, lack of clean water or the sheer stress of the situation. Would the Minister take this opportunity, as other noble Lords have asked, to update the House on the steps the Government are taking to promote the uptake of exclusive breastfeeding?

It is also in emergencies that the promotion or donation of breast-milk substitutes can have a negative effect on breastfeeding rates. This is why it is so vital that nutrition objectives and sensitivity are included in all DfID programmes and investments. The code of marketing of breast-milk substitutes has had some success here in the UK. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has ceased to receive funding from BMS manufacturers, and the British Medical Journal no longer carries adverts from such companies. But bold action is required to eliminate all conflicts of interest and enforce the code. More work needs to be done to promote and support breastfeeding practices through DfID investments and to ensure that the code is enshrined in a greater number of countries. I would therefore be grateful if the Minister could say what steps the Government are taking with other donors and Governments to ensure better enforcement of the code. Perhaps she might also say whether breaches of the code still occur within the commissioning groups of the NHS.

There will be many reasons for Ministers and others to visit Japan in this Olympic year to support Team GB. However, I hope that we will send our strongest delegation to the July springboard Goalkeepers event to give a lead to other countries by pledging early support and, I hope, the £800 million a year as called for by the international coalition. We need to work with national Governments to develop, lead and finance national plans for nutrition. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s view on those points. While we will, quite rightly, fly the flag for Team GB, we should also fly the flag for the incredibly important role the British Government and DfID can play in moving the dial on achieving the SDG goal on nutrition, without which the other goals will never be achieved.

Gender Pay Gap

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Tuesday 5th March 2019

(5 years, 3 months ago)

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Asked by
Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to address the gender pay gap.

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) (Con)
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My Lords, it is fantastic that over 10,000 employers reported gender pay gap data last year. With this year’s deadline now less than a month away, I look forward to seeing what progress they have made. We know that reporting is just the first step, and that is why we are now working hard with employers to help them understand their gender pay gaps and getting them to put plans in place to tackle them.

Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab)
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I thank the Minister for that Answer, but she will have seen the Guardian’s report showing that no sanctions have been taken against companies that have filed wildly inaccurate, bogus reports or even no reports. New research by the Young Women’s Trust shows that two-thirds of companies do not have any plans in place to close their gender pay gap. Does she agree that it is time to consider legislation to require employers to develop those positive action programmes? Will she consider making employers include all salary details in job adverts, which would aid transparency and go some way to closing the gap?

Baroness Williams of Trafford Portrait Baroness Williams of Trafford
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On companies that have perhaps submitted bogus returns—that is, returns that are not credible—I know that the EHRC is working with companies to help them improve their accuracy. They can be obliged to put in place action plans where they have submitted inaccurate data, and this is what we are helping them to do. I have some sympathy with the noble Baroness’s point on salary details, because quite often they are completely opaque and might depend on who the employer sees on the day—so I agree with that. On a positive note, we have come an awfully long way. We are the first country in the world to require companies with more than 250 employees to submit gender pay gap data.

Burma: Rohingya

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Thursday 26th October 2017

(6 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab)
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My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness for introducing this debate and noble Lords for all the powerful speeches that have preceded mine. I also declare an interest as a trustee of the Burma Campaign UK, which has long campaigned for human rights in Burma.

The fact that nearly 1 million people have had to flee to a neighbouring country because of the systematic murder and rape by the military in Burma is a shocking indictment of the world we live in. The fact that ethnic cleansing on this scale can happen again is a reminder of the fragility of our world. One million people is as if nearly all of Birmingham ceased to be.

While reports of attacks by the military might appear to have diminished over recent days, the remaining Rohingya in Burma are being starved to death because humanitarian assistance is denied access to Rakhine state, where 140,000 Rohingya are living in IDP camps which are in reality prison camps.

The UK Government should adopt a twin-track approach in supporting the Rohingya. First, we must help the displaced Rohingya in Bangladesh and surrounding countries with humanitarian assistance and healthcare. The British people have shown their humanity by their response to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal, and I am pleased that the Government have increased the level of matched funding, but I hope that the Minister will announce today that the Government are keeping the level of aid under review and that it will be increased as necessary, as well as urging other countries, especially fellow Commonwealth countries, to pledge further funding.

The other approach must be to put pressure on the military so that they understand that they cannot act with impunity. It is not possible for the Rohingya to be repatriated as Aung San Suu Kyi has suggested because there is nothing to go back to. Their home villages have been destroyed and their only prospect is indefinite internment in even more IDP camps. It has been made impossible for the Rohingya to prove citizenship, as the noble Baroness just explained.

Only economic measures will get the military to change their behaviour. It has happened in the past and it is the only sure way to get them to change in the future. The generals did not wake up one day and decide that democracy was a good idea. They were under significant international pressure, which was causing them domestic problems as well. All the reforms in Burma have been carefully orchestrated by the military, underpinned by the 2008 constitution which they drew up to ensure that they kept their grip on the pace and speed of change. They knew that Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD would win elections and they needed to keep control of the levers of power in the security ministries whilst keeping a block on reform in the Parliament, too. That constitution stops Aung San Suu Kyi having any control over the army, in the same way as it stopped her becoming president—but she did not let that stand in her way. Her voice could mobilise international and domestic opinion, but, so far, that has not happened. Aung San Suu Kyi was a beacon for the human rights movement, but is letting herself now be described as a shield for the military. While we regret her inaction, that does not shift responsibility from the military.

There is a view, wrongly held in my opinion, that the military are looking for a reason to take back control of the country. But how is a coup in their interest? They know full well the international consequences if they removed Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as the domestic problems that it would cause them.

I am sure the Minister will talk about the UK’s five-point plan, but the UK and the international community must have a concerted programme to achieve those laudable aims. That will happen only if the military see that their economic interests are hurt if they pursue their programme of ethnic cleansing. So I hope the Minister will say that the British Government will impose visa restrictions on the military and their families, promote an international arms embargo mandated by the UN and halt investment in and business with military-owned companies. What is happening in Myanmar and in Bangladesh has consequences for the whole world, and the British Government should be at the forefront of action to stop this appalling situation.

Women: Discrimination

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Tuesday 8th March 2016

(8 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Verma Portrait Baroness Verma
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My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for her question on widows. We fought hard to have a stand-alone gender goal at the UN General Assembly last year so that we could have a life-cycle approach, which included widows. We are doing a lot to help vulnerable groups in society who are susceptible to violence, including widows.

Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab)
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My Lords, the Minister will have seen the pledge by more than 100 women, including noble Baronesses from all sides of the House and Members of the other place, to stand with the women of Burma to end rape and sexual violence in that country. Will the British Government support their call for an investigation into rape and sexual violence by the Burmese military against ethnic women and girls?

Baroness Verma Portrait Baroness Verma
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My Lords, we have to stand up and fight all abuses from all countries by all military personnel. That is why we insist on working with partners to ensure that countries respect the role and place of women in their communities.

Women: Public Life

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Tuesday 21st October 2014

(9 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab)
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My Lords, the Welsh Rugby Union’s decision to appoint its first female board member in its 133-year history is obviously to be welcomed but shows that there is still a mountain to be climbed. Will the Minister give us an update on which sporting organisations in receipt of government funding have reached the 25% target of women on boards?

Baroness Northover Portrait Baroness Northover
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I will write to the noble Baroness with the details of the most up-to-date position. However, she is right to note that these organisations have tended to lag behind in this regard. They have been chivvied to address this, especially as they receive funding from the Government, as she points out. However, in another field, I am pleased that the head of the BBC World Service is Francesca Unsworth, whom I congratulate on her appointment.

Women: Contribution to Economic Life

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Thursday 6th March 2014

(10 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab)
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My Lords, I, too, thank the Minister for arranging this debate and for extending the nature of the debate. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Palumbo, on his maiden speech. Following the remarks made by the noble Baroness, Lady Jenkin, perhaps I may say, for political balance, that our door also is always open to any women listening to this debate. The theme for International Women’s Day this year is inspiring change and to celebrate the social, political and economic achievements of women. However, it is also necessary to focus attention on areas requiring further action. While positive gains have been made—we have heard a lot from noble Lords today—the world is still a very unequal place and women are still not achieving their full potential. This debate is about the contribution of women to economic life and I would like to concentrate on a group of young women in the UK who would like to contribute but for many diverse reasons are not doing so.

One of the most serious social problems that has faced successive Governments and has had cross-party consensus is the large number of young people who are not in employment, education or training—NEETs. The perceived view is that this is mainly a young male issue but the figures show a different story. There are significantly higher numbers of young women who are more likely to become and to stay NEET. The latest figures show that 500,000 young women aged 18 to 24 are NEET. That is over 90,000 more than young men over the course of last year and is 20% of all young women. This gender gap has remained persistent over time.

On average, in the past five years, there have been 100,000 more young women in that age group who are NEET than young men. These young women also stay NEET for longer. Even though there are more young men between the ages of 16 to 18, that figure changes in the 18 to 24 age group. Being NEET at such a young age has a significant impact on young women’s long-term outcomes. Evidence shows that double the number of women work in low-paid jobs and that they are more likely to remain trapped in low pay. One in four women is now earning less than the living wage, which is why it is so important to strengthen the minimum wage, and to tackle the abuse of zero-hours contracts and agency working, which are the jobs where women are concentrated.

The recent ONS figures show a welcome increase in the rate of female employment but there are still more than 900,000 young people unemployed with more than 250,000 of them being unemployed for more than a year. While employment has increased, so, sadly, has the gender pay gap, which is now one of the highest in the EU. Women are still not getting the fair pay that they deserve. I declare an interest as a trustee of the Young Women’s Trust, which has evolved from the YWCA; it recently published a report, Young Women—the Real Story, based on its polling and focus groups with young women and on published data to find the facts and not the myths about being young and female in England and Wales today.

The report shows that, contrary to the popular feeling that young women have never had it so good, many face loneliness, thwarted ambitions and emotional and financial insecurity. It found that one in three young women feels that they are judged unfairly when they ask for help. One in four felt that they had no one to turn to when they could not figure out their problems by themselves. More than 50% had suffered from stress and 30% had self-harmed. One-third believed that paid apprenticeships in engineering and building trades were only for boys and more than one-third had never had any careers advice.

I know that these issues are not limited to young women. The recent report by Barnardo’s, Helping the Inbetweeners, which is the cohort just above NEETS, showed similar findings. But the outcomes for young women are much worse and evidence shows that it does not get any better as they go through life. We know that more women are working part time, and in temporary and insecure work.

The young women whom the charity works with are often struggling to make ends meet. They move in and out of part-time casual jobs and do not find any help to give them the skills, experience and support that they need to achieve their ambitions. The Young Women’s Trust talked to a 22 year-old from London called Sonia. When she was 14, she was made homeless after her father died and her mother sadly turned her out. Despite sleeping on floors and sofas, and in hostels, she went to college and qualified as a nursery nurse. But she has not been able to find a job and has been unemployed for three years. Her aspirations of working with children are different now: she just wants any job. She says, “I don’t really know where I’ll be in 10 years, time because it is difficult to see into the future if you are not really starting now”.

Despite these realities, the public debate about NEETs often centres on young men because on average they tend to do worse at school and more are unemployed. But that ignores the gender gap and the fact that far more young women are economically inactive than young men and therefore are even further from the labour market. There is a tendency to think that we know why so many young women are out of work, education or training. The perception is fed by the media, which generally attribute the problem to fecklessness, personal choice, young motherhood or the benefits system—we can take our pick. However, the reality is more complex and we need a more nuanced understanding of why this is. That is why the Young Women’s Trust will be undertaking a major piece of work in 2014 to find solutions so that all young women can find the quality, sustainable work they need to secure their future. We need to challenge the voices suggesting that it is because women make wrong choices.

In this debate, we have heard that academic girls outperform boys at school and more go to university. But what about the 36% of girls who in 2012, if you include English and maths, did not achieve five GCSEs at grades A to C? That is more than 100,000 girls who did not achieve the qualification level necessary for further education or training, or for starting employment. If they do on average achieve better grades than boys, it is still in subjects which lead to lower-paid jobs. That is why I am so concerned about the changes to the way in which young women get careers advice and guidance.

Here I shall echo some of the words of my noble friend Lady Prosser and the noble Baroness, Lady Howe. I readily acknowledge that careers guidance for young people was in need of reform and Connexions had serious failures. I also support the Government’s extension of the statutory duty to year 8, and to 16 to 18 year-olds in college. According to a survey by Careers England, since the Government decided to give responsibility to schools for careers advice without any funding, eight in 10 schools have dramatically cut the advice that they provide.

The Education Select Committee report says that the quality and quantity of careers advice and guidance has deteriorated at a time when it is most needed and called the decision to transfer responsibility for careers guidance to schools regrettable. Even the director of the CBI has questioned the laissez-faire approach of the Government. Barnado’s says:

“There is still too much gender-stereotyping in careers guidance”.

Much more needs to be done to encourage diversity of aspiration for all children, regardless of gender. I know the Government will not change their mind about what they have done on the careers service, but there is one small change that could make a difference. I believe that the Government should have adopted the Education Select Committee’s recommendation that there is a requirement in the statutory guidance for schools to publish an annual careers plan to include information on the support and resources available to their pupils in planning their career development, which could be reviewed annually.

Apart from issues of transparency and accountability, it would also ensure that a school would have to look at whether it was offering non-gender specific advice. We need to stop girls being told that their future lies in a default setting of beauty or childcare. We need to encourage diversity of aspiration regardless of gender so that all girls can fully contribute to the world they live in.

Finally, I have a request for all you noble tweeters. As I said, the Young Women’s Trust is campaigning to raise awareness of the reality of young women’s lives. Its #everydaySHEro campaign celebrates the ordinary women that make our lives that bit easier, better or just more fun. So please join in and nobly tweet your own #everydaySHEro and help celebrate everyday women’s contributions to society as part of International Women’s Day.

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Thursday 12th December 2013

(10 years, 6 months ago)

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Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye (Lab)
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My Lords, I join the noble Baroness in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Verjee, on his most eloquent maiden speech. I look forward to his future contributions. I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, for securing this important debate and for his efforts to keep the fund at the forefront of the development agenda.

As the noble Lord said, the fund’s achievements have been remarkable: 6 million treated for HIV; 11 million diagnosed and treated for TB; and 360 million bed nets. I thank the Government for maintaining the support shown to the Global Fund by the previous Labour Government by making such a generous pledge. Although the replenishment campaign is over, the work of replenishing the fund must continue in order to ensure that it reaches its target.

I, too, look forward to the Minister giving us an update on what the Government are doing to galvanise support from other donors to ensure that UK and US money is not left on the table and on what part they are playing to ensure the long-term stability of the funding stream. Only with sustained, long-term funding can you achieve the scale of the interventions needed.

For all these efforts, gaps remain in our responses to these diseases. For 10 years, the UK charity Target Tuberculosis has been working in the field through local partner organisations, focusing on the needs of the poorest communities, who often live in remote locations far from government-led national TB programmes, which receive the bulk of the Global Fund allocations.

Currently the British Government do not engage in any bilateral funding of programmes related to TB, despite the Prime Minister co-chairing a high-level panel report on the post-2015 framework that identified treating TB as the most cost-effective health intervention measured. It returns £30 for every £1 spent. Perhaps the Minister will explain why the British Government do not fund TB-specific projects through bilateral funding.

In October the WHO launched its annual Global Tuberculosis Report in London with RESULTS UK, to which I am grateful for the work that it does and the briefing that it has provided for this debate. The report named five key priorities for beating the TB epidemic. I am going to concentrate on the need to:

“Accelerate the response to TB/HIV”.

Last year 1.3 million people lost their lives to TB. As the noble Lord said, 320,000 of those people were HIV positive. TB is the leading cause of death for people with HIV, yet only just over half of all those who are HIV positive and have TB can access anti-retrovirals. TB preys on a weakened immune system and, without access to anti-retrovirals, TB will progress faster in an HIV-positive patient. Co-infected patients without anti-retrovirals are more likely to die. A priority for reducing the number of deaths from TB and HIV is to scale up the response to co-infection and ensure that everyone with TB is tested for HIV, and vice versa, and given the proper medication.

The Stop TB Partnership, the WHO and UNAIDS stated that 1 million deaths could be prevented among people living with HIV by 2015 if the world implemented simple strategies; that is, everyone with TB gets an HIV test and access to treatment. Worryingly, there remains a huge gap between where we are today and complete coverage of anti-retrovirals for TB/HIV patients, as the noble Lord, Lord Fowler, said. The recent DfID position paper reaffirming its commitment to TB/HIV is to be welcomed.

The fund’s strategy committee has decided that it should do more on TB/HIV. It has mandated that any country with high rates of TB/HIV co-infection that applies for funding for treatment programmes will have to design its programmes in a single unified application. Every country will have to have joint, integrated, co-ordinated programmes for TB/HIV. This could be a huge step forward, as the fund provides 80% of international financing for TB and more than 20% for HIV. I urge the Government to take the lead and to support the Global Fund, not with money this time but by supporting and adopting similar policies and by urging other partners to do the same.

Finally, in a week when the eyes of the world have been on South Africa, there is one other area where we could make a difference. South Africa’s gold mines contribute 9% of the global total of TB cases, which in turn fuel the HIV epidemic in the region. The British Government could show real global leadership and I hope that the Minister will update your Lordships’ House on the Government’s recent meetings with mining companies. The South African Health Minister and chair of the Stop TB Partnership board has called a regional gathering of Health Ministers and mining companies for early next year. The meeting will seek to drive a regional response to the disease. It would show real commitment if the British Government sent a high-level representative to that meeting. This is the kind of leadership that the British Government could and should provide. They have stated that TB/HIV is a priority; now I urge them to prove it.

Sport: Women and Girls

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Thursday 7th March 2013

(11 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Northover Portrait Baroness Northover
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Again, the noble Baroness speaks with huge amounts of experience and the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation is a crucial body in trying to take this forward. Sport England has awarded a grant to that organisation to try to identify how best to encourage women and girls to be involved in sport. The noble Baroness is absolutely right that mothers who were themselves switched off from sport are less likely to encourage their children to be involved in sport. That is one key area where we welcome insights into how best to tackle this.

Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye
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My Lords, does the Minister agree that, after the success of women athletes at the Olympics last year, it is a disgrace that two-thirds of boards of sporting organisations do not meet UK Sport’s minimum target of 25% female members and six, including British Cycling, do not have a woman on them at all? Given that public money is involved, do the Government have a strategy to deal with this?

Baroness Northover Portrait Baroness Northover
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The noble Baroness is right; Sport England and UK Sport are both encouraging national governing bodies of sport to increase the number of women on boards and the Government expect that all publicly funded sports bodies should have at least 25% women on their boards by 2017. That is very important but we also need more women as editors of newspapers, political programmes and so on.

Crime: Domestic Violence

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Thursday 14th February 2013

(11 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Northover Portrait Baroness Northover
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My noble friend is right that this is a terrible practice, which we seek to counter both in the United Kingdom and overseas. We are funding civil society organisations which are working to end the practice in Ethiopia and Kenya, and my honourable friend Lynne Featherstone is developing a major new programme to address FGM. We know that work with communities, as my noble friend says, including affected women and girls is key to ending the practice. Organisations such as AWEPA, which engage parliamentarians, are crucial in bringing about the change that we all need to see.

Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye
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My Lords, does the Minister agree that when one in two boys and one in three girls in the UK think that there are some circumstances when it is okay to hit a woman, or to force a woman to have sex, it is essential that sex and relationship education is made statutory in our schools? That must include free schools and academies.

Baroness Northover Portrait Baroness Northover
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It is clearly unacceptable when children in our society hold these points of view, and I know that it is prevalent. The noble Baroness will be pleased to hear that today we are putting increased effort into a teenage relationship abuse campaign, because it is extremely important that we get across to teenagers—girls as well as boys—that this is unacceptable and what actually constitutes abuse so that it does not then lead on into domestic violence. That campaign will need to be targeted in every possible place.

Treatment of Homosexual Men and Women in the Developing World

Baroness Nye Excerpts
Thursday 25th October 2012

(11 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Nye Portrait Baroness Nye
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My Lords, I, too, am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, for initiating this important debate. As he and other noble Lords have so clearly stated, criminalisation of homosexuality violates international law. It denies rights to privacy, equality and dignity and has a negative impact on HIV/AIDS prevention, as the noble Lords, Lord Fowler and Lord Rea, so powerfully argued.

The figures that form the backdrop to this debate deserve repetition: 76 countries around the world still have penal laws; that is 42 out of the 54 Commonwealth countries. That includes 11 in the Caribbean which, in the short time available, is the area on which I shall concentrate. Most Caribbean countries have penal punishments of 10 years or more. There are a few, such as the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Bahamas, where the LGBT community enjoys some degree of security, and the British Overseas Territories, such as Anguilla and others, where the law was changed in 2001. Although celebrating the fact that the law has been changed, public antipathy is still high and discrimination remains. So it was good that the issue of human rights, including discrimination against the LGBT community, was raised at CHOGM in Perth last year.

The Prime Minister, in an interview, went further and linked human rights reform to the allocation of British budgetary support. While I agree with his motives, I am unsure that this approach will work. When you look at the response in the Caribbean, I think the Government need to think again. No independent Caribbean country receives general budget support from Britain and therefore would not be affected by this policy. However, this fact did not get in the way of an angry response in the media about an ex-colonial power exerting undue influence over other Governments, especially as it was the same colonial power that had devised the laws in the first place.

Some civil society groups think that this announcement will be counterproductive as it will,

“tend … to exacerbate the environment of intolerance in which political leadership scapegoat LGBTI people for donor sanctions”.

Moreover, the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition has said that the threat, if acted upon, would erode gains made by the Caribbean over the past 10 years in reducing deaths from AIDS through access to retroviral treatments. There have also been accusations of foreign intervention by opponents of the legal challenge mounted by the United Belize Advocacy Movement to Section 53 of the Belize criminal code which, as has been said, is being supported by international organisations.

I share the view of many in the developing world when I say that I do not believe that support for advocacy groups in the countries where change is needed causes the same problems as imposing conditionality by donor nations. This is especially true in Caribbean countries where there is a lack of educational information, a reluctance to engage in the issue of decriminalising homosexuality and where a culture shift is required. Sadly, most churches in the Caribbean also have a strong influence on the political parties to maintain the status quo. However, if they heard the speech by the right reverend Prelate they would probably change their minds because it was very powerful. Supporting civil society groups in changing the nature of the debate and understanding would go a long way to help change public opinion, and I would like to hear from the Minister what the Government are doing to promote civil society groups.

The Caribbean will be affected by the European Parliament’s decision to concentrate future support on the least developed countries, as highlighted by the new Jamaican Prime Minister in her address to the General Assembly. During last year’s Jamaican election campaign, Portia Simpson Miller, as leader of the PNP, responded to a question about homosexuals in government in a TV debate by saying:

“Our administration believes in protecting the human rights of all Jamaicans. No one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. Government should provide the protection”,

and that she would review the legislation. Given that Time magazine had asked if Jamaica was the most homophobic place in the world, given the violence and the culture of murder music, this was a very courageous thing to say in the middle of an election campaign. However, since her landslide election victory she has made no moves to change the law. Reports to J-Flag, which is the only gay rights organisation in Jamaica, show that violence and discrimination have tripled since 2008, but Time magazine has selected Portia Simpson Miller as one of the world’s 100 most influential people because of this stance. Activists have welcomed her inclusion on the list, even though there has been no action, as a way of incentivising her to follow up on that election commitment. Perhaps in the parlance of No. 10’s nudge unit, she should be nudged to make some progress. As the noble Lord, Lord Lexden, said, advocacy groups have lodged a case with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a favourable ruling would obviously add to the pressure for change.

Pressure and support for civil society groups must continue to be applied at every opportunity. In January this year, four British Ministers, led by the Foreign Secretary, attended the biennial UK-Caribbean Forum in Grenada. The meeting took place on a Cariforum-wide basis with the Dominican Republic as a full participant and Cuba and the British Overseas Territories attending as observers. Instead of the usual communiqué at the end, there was a more detailed action plan talking about the economy, security and all those very important issues which promote British and Caribbean interests, but nowhere can I find any reference to the Secretary of State raising the issue of human rights and the treatment of homosexual men and women in the Caribbean. I know that the Secretary of State raised it at the Commonwealth People’s Forum in Perth last year when he said:

“The UK would like to see the Commonwealth do more to promote the rights of its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. It is wrong in our view that these groups continue to suffer persecution, violence and discrimination”.

Everyone would agree with that, and I think it deserves repeating, but I am concerned that no opportunity is lost to raise these issues, and I would be very grateful if the Minister could allay my fears and confirm that this issue was raised by the Foreign Secretary or any of the other Ministers who attended that meeting, and that they will continue to do so.