UN International Day of the Girl

Today I am supporting the International Day of the Girl, the UN-led campaign to raise awareness of gender inequalities and abuse suffered by girls around the world and this year’s theme is “Empowering adolescent girls: Ending the cycle of violence”.

The Labour Party has made stopping violence against women and girls a key priority for our programme for Government and tackling violence and sexual exploitation is one of my top ten local priorities.

Earlier this year, my colleague Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP announced that a Labour Government would bring in new legislation to give better support to victims of violence and bring perpetrators to justice. During the summer the Party also appointed our first ever Shadow Minister for Preventing Violence against Women and Girls.

The Labour Party has committed to:

o Introducing a new Commissioner of Domestic and Sexual Violence to sit at the heart of Government and ensure victims voices are being heard
o New national standards for policing to drive up performance across the board
o Introducing compulsory sex & relationship education in all state-funded schools, so young people are taught that no form of violence in relationships is acceptable
o A new £3million annual fund for refuges supporting victims of domestic violence
o New FGM Protection Orders to stop children suspected of being at risk of FGM from being taken abroad

I want girls in Oldham East and Saddleworth to grow up knowing they won’t face discrimination because of their gender and never fearing violence will be used against them. That is why it is vital that we to talk to young people about why it is important that we continue to fight for gender equality and continue speaking out against violence and discrimination – in Oldham, but also across the country and internationally too.

The global level of violence against girls is horrific. Too often rape and violence are used as weapons of war and in many countries discrimination against girls is deeply embedded in national culture. The UN’s International Day of the Girl is time where we can stand side-by-side with women and girls across the world and say: ‘we will not stand for this. We want change.’

We need change in our country too. Teenage girls and young women are now the most likely group to be victims of domestic violence, thousands of girls are at risk of FGM and the NUS report a growing number of sexual assaults at university.

You can find out more about the UN International Day of the Girl at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/girl-child

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