Press release

Greening: UK to ‘break chains of dependency’ for women around the world

The UK has launched a new drive to tear down the barriers stopping women in the world’s poorest countries from getting jobs, helping thousands to lift themselves out of poverty.

Photograph of a woman in Nepal
The UK will help remove the barriers women face in getting well paid jobs around the world. Picture: Robert Stansfield/DFID

At a major UN Summit in New York, International Development Secretary Justine Greening announced new funding to help women in Nepal get jobs and combat violence against teenage girls in Ghana, as well as new work to help rip up laws that discriminate against women across the developing world.

Many girls and women in the developing world are denied the opportunity to get a job or face the daily threat of violence. In 18 nations husbands can legally prevent their wives from working.

In addition to law reform, the new package of support will see thousands of new construction jobs given to the poorest women in Nepal, lifting 30,000 families out of poverty by 2019. It will also give thousands of Ghanaian girls a safe space to escape violence.

Justine Greening said:

For far too long girls and women have been invisible outside of the home. They have been excluded not just from the jobs market but from owning land, from registering a business and from accessing a bank account.

If we can break these chains of dependency, independent women will seize the opportunity to support themselves through the dignity of work, to control their own future and have their own voice.

I firmly believe that improving the lives of girls and women is one of the smartest investments we can make, which is why Britain will continue to lead from the front on this.

We will help tear down the barriers stopping women across the world from lifting themselves out of poverty, whether these are discriminatory laws, poor infrastructure or the threat of violence.

New programmes announced at the UN Sustainable Development Summit include:

New British funding for a major road-building programme in Western Nepal

  • The extreme lack of infrastructure in Nepal, where 1.4 million women and girls have no access to any road at all, stops them from reaching markets, health centres and schools.
  • A £36 million extension to the Rural Access Programme will build rural roads and foot-bridges in extremely remote areas, giving more than a million women and girls access to new roads and lifting 30,000 families out of poverty by 2019.
  • Many of these roads will be built by women for women, with thousands of jobs going to female labourers.

UK support to end discriminatory laws

  • In 18 nations husbands can legally prevent their wives from working. In 35 nations female surviving spouses do not have the same inheritance rights as their male counterparts.
  • The UK will provide £1 million to the World Bank to develop new approaches for tackling regulations and systems that discriminate against women, confronting issues like unequal inheritance rights and tax breaks that are specific to men.
  • An extra £800,000 will also go to the World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law survey which measures economic laws and regulations that make it harder for women to work, providing new data that can help global efforts to end legal discrimination.

A new drive to end violence against teenage girls in Ghana

  • The UK will commit £15 million to help stop violence against teenage girls in Ghana, where 40% of girls aged 15 to 19 have experienced physical or sexual violence.
  • This programme will give thousands of girls a safe space to learn about their rights, healthy relationships and their sexual and reproductive health. The programme will also work with adolescent boys to challenge existing attitudes and encourage non-violent relationships.

The UN Sustainable Development Summit, currently underway in New York from 25-27 September, has brought together the largest ever gathering of world leaders to adopt 17 new Global Goals that aim to eradicate extreme poverty over the next 15 years.

Over the past 3 years the UK has lobbied hard to make sure the Global Goals cover the areas not covered by the MDGs:

  • The UK successfully pushed for a stand-alone goal on gender equality, including targets on early and forced marriage, FGM, and - against strong resistance - sexual and reproductive rights.
  • To lock-in the economic progress made since 2000 and enable people to work towards their own prosperity the UK has helped secure a goal on peace, security and good governance: the building blocks of stable, successful societies.
  • The UK has played a key role in creating a set of goals that are universal and inclusive; underpinned by a commitment to leave no one behind. These goals are focused on ending chronic poverty forever, for everyone, everywhere. The most marginalised and vulnerable people, whether disabled, hard to reach or affected by conflict, will not be left behind.

Transforming economies for women and girls

As part of the summit the UK hosted a major event on Friday 25 September bringing together governments, businesses and aid agencies to boost women’s economic empowerment, including key commitments from:


Investment in women is key in reaching the SDGs; that is why the Netherlands continues to do so. We need women and their organisations as watchdogs, innovators, trailblazers to work for equality. They are partners in realizing SDG5 and the other Goals. That is why the Netherlands is launching the Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women [FLOW] fund in support of organisations for women’s rights worldwide. To enable them to work on economic empowerment, political participation, and to combat violence against women. The Netherlands is proud to invest €93 million in the next 5 years for civil society organisations. Empowering women, working for sustainable development for all.

Coca Cola

We, The Coca-Cola Company launched a 3 year, $4 million global partnership with UN Women to promote women’s economic empowerment for over 37,000 women entrepreneurs in 3 countries.

World Bank Group

The World Bank Group, acknowledging that 2015 marks a critical turning point for efforts to end poverty and boost inclusive growth, is committed to launch a renewed gender equality strategy in the coming months that will deliver measurable results in creating more and better jobs for women and expanding their access to and control over financial and physical assets such as land, housing, and technology, as well as their access to essential services such as banking, water, and social safety nets


Energia has committed €13 million over the next 5 years to providing technical and financial assistance to country programmes in Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal, Nigeria, Nepal and Indonesia that strengthen the capacity of over 3000 women led enterprises to deliver energy services to over 2 million rural and remote consumers. Energia is a civil society organization working to make sustainable energy for all a reality on the ground with a focus on women economic empowerment and gender equality. This new initiative receives support from the governments of Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom, Finland, Netherlands, and the Asia Development Bank

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Published 25 September 2015