Writing for Lib Dem Voice, Liz Barker has highlighted the importance of Pride, the Lib Dem record on LGBT equality and why it is more vital than ever the Lib Dems have a strong presence at Pride.
Next Saturday the LGBT community will celebrate Pride in London.
There has been a kerfuffle about whether UKIP should be allowed to attend. Of course they should. In this country the LGBT community is strong enough to be inclusive, to involve all sorts of minorities. Moreover several hours in which to challenge the absurdity of being an LGBT member of UKIP – preferably through the media of song and interpretive dance – is a gift too good to be spurned.
This year the march will be led by Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners; an organisation of which many young people were unaware until they saw the film Pride. Do get the DVD. It is well worth a watch. The presence of LGSM (as it said on the collecting buckets) is a timely reminder of how easily political fortunes can change and memories fade.
Last week was my first visit to the Commission on the Status of Women(CSW), an annual event that has been held at the UN since 1946. Over 100 ministers and 8000 civil society advocates attended, with events ranging from set piece plenary sessions where ministers deliver their national statements, to side events on every issue you could imagine.
This year, we were celebrating 20 years since the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing agreed powerful commitments for advancing women’s rights, known as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
That ground-breaking declaration was and still is a blueprint for what needs to happen to advance women’s rights – but has yet to be fully realised anywhere in the world.
I had long heard reports of CSW. Often I heard that progress seemed difficult to achieve. Indeed, it was challenging enough to stop the world moving backwards on women’s rights, especially in the sexual and reproductive rights which must underpin women’s autonomy.
Having heard about CSW for so many years without ever being a participant, it was extraordinary to represent the UK in that famous UN General Assembly Hall.
So many of the ways in which women and girls around the world must live their lives are simply taken for granted, never given a second thought.
We all know that domestic tasks fall disproportionately on women. That is as true in the UK as it is in a rural African village or a Darfuri refugee camp.
We also know that round the world there is energy poverty – people do not have the basic energy needs for their daily lives. But do we realise how this disproportionately affects women and girls?
In this crucial year, when the international community will agree a new set of Sustainable Development Goals and a climate deal will be reached in Paris, maybe we should think harder.
An estimated 1.3 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity, and 2.8 billion rely on solid fuels for cooking and heating. And it is girls and women who bear the brunt of this energy poverty.
Twenty years ago some 30,000 activists descended on Beijing for a historic Women’s Conference where representatives from 189 governments agreed powerful commitments for advancing girls’ and women’s rights. These commitments formed the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
The UK welcomes the opportunity to engage with UN Women and international partners to discuss progress for girls and women since Beijing, and more importantly to address persisting barriers to gender equality.
The UK Government believes that all girls and women have the right to live free from discrimination and violence and to fulfil their potential.
Women’s greater economic independence and participation is crucial to gender equality and global development. The UK has prioritised this at home and overseas.
In the UK there are more women in work than ever before – including in senior decision-making roles and as heads of businesses. We are closing the gender pay gap and working to ensure more girls pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
We’re introducing new legislation to help women into work – including flexible working, shared parental leave and tax-free childcare.
Overseas we have provided access to financial services to at least 26.4 million women and supported over five million girls to attend primary and lower secondary school.
African communities in the UK will receive support to strengthen campaigns to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) through a new scheme backed by the Department for International Development (DFID) in collaboration with The Girl Generation, Lib Dem Development Minister Baroness Northover has announced.
Voluntary and community African groups in the UK are being invited to bid for new grants to support their campaigns to end FGM in their countries of origin.
Lib Dem Wales Office Minister Baroness Randerson receives recognition for her services to interfaith relations.
The Muslim Council for Wales has decided that, in recognition for her services to interfaith relations, refugees and asylum-seekers, the minister will be awarded with their Achievement Award 2015.
The Minister will receive her award at the Council’s dinner celebrating UN Word Interfaith Harmony Week at Cardiff City Hall on Wednesday 4 February 2015. Previous recipients include the Rt. Hon. Rhodri Morgan, Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas and Cardinal Cormack Murphy O’Connor.
The event is an historical one as its keynote speaker will be Chief Rabbi Mirvis Ephraim, 11th Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregation of the Commonwealth. Islamic theologian Shaykh Asim Yusuf will be the keynote speaker.
The Muslim community has stated that it is very indebted to the minister for the commitment, dedication and enthusiasm she has shown over the years and value her contribution to interfaith harmony.
On hearing of the news of her award, Jenny Randerson said:
I feel very humbled and proud to be honoured in this way. Seeking harmony between all faiths is important if we wish to live in a peaceful world and I have always supported co-operation and tolerance.
To receive an honour for what I believe in has touched me deeply.
This week, Addis Ababa has played host to the African Union (AU) Summit. While 2015 is the AU’s year of women’s empowerment – one of the issues I’ve focused on here this week – Ebola has, of course, taken centre stage as well. Both issues provide a clear demonstration of the kind of African leadership the UK is working to support.
But we must go further. I am here at the AU summit to lobby for faster progress. I attended an extraordinary breakfast hosted by the First Ladies of Africa to press for progress on ending child marriage, where we heard from a brave young Nigerian woman who had been married at the age of 13 – to a man whose name she didn’t even know – and had her childhood stolen from her. In a halting voice, with a scarf across her face to conceal her identity, she urged us to ensure that other young girls could stay in school, as she had wished, not lose their childhoods, and choose a partner only when ready.
Lib Dem Peer Jenny Randerson meets inspirational Welsh businesswomen to see how the UK Government can increase opportunities for women in business.
Wales Office Minister Baroness Randerson is meeting inspirational Welsh businesswomen (29-30 January) to see how the UK Government can increase opportunities for women in business.
Ahead of International Women’s Day (8 March), Baroness Randerson is visiting Monty’s Brewery. Pam Honeyman, co-founder of Monty’s brewery is a key contributor in the success of the company – creating and producing the award winning beer that started it all, “Sunshine”.