This speech was given by equalities minister Lynne Featherstone on 6 July 2011. This version of the speech is as spoken.
‘I’m delighted to be here today at the launch of this important report and I’m even more delighted to see so many people here who are dedicated to helping women.
In the UK, we have seen very great progress on women’s rights.
As recently as 1975 it was legal to pay women less than men for exactly the same work.
Now we have senior women in parliament and government, in business, in science and the arts.
But there is still a great deal more we can do to improve women’s rights in Britain.
Shockingly, there remain in Britain over one million victims of domestic abuse each year; over 300,000 women sexually assaulted each year and 60,000 women raped.
And, overall, one in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, often accompanied by years of psychological abuse.
That is not acceptable.
And that’s why the Home Secretary and I have been absolutely clear that tackling Violence Against Women and Girls is one of our top priorities.
In March we published a cross-government action plan.
Amongst other things, that action plan commits us to providing over £28 million of stable Home Office funding until 2015 for local specialist services.
It commits us to providing £900,000 until 2015 to support national helplines.
And, for the first time, it commits us to putting funding for rape crisis centres on a stable footing. We’re providing more than £10 million over three years to support their work and we will open new centres where there are gaps in provision.
But women’s rights don’t stop at the borders of the UK. As this report makes clear, some of the grossest inequalities that still exist are in developing countries, and the UK should be just as committed to tackling those as we are to the rights of women here.
That’s why we have been such strong supporters of the work of Michelle Bachellet and the work of UN women and it’s why we are doing so much directly to help women overseas.
So now I want to hand over to Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, to talk about what we are doing to support UN Women, and the great work we are doing ourselves to help women across the globe.’