Today was the first meeting of Labour's International Development policy review group entitled ‘Supporting the sustainable empowerment of women and girls in the developing world'.
The group is chaired by Cherie Blair. It will examine how the UK's development policies can help tackle the challenges that women and girls still face around the world including access to education, healthcare and economic opportunities and lack of political representation. It will also specifically look at how the new UN Women's agency will contribute to improving the lives of women and girls around the world and empowering women themselves.
The last 100 years have seen great progress for women and girls around the world but many challenges still exist. This policy group will examine how to tackle those challenges and ensure the empowerment of women and girls. Women don't want charity, they want justice and the opportunity to fulfil their own potential.
I am delighted that Cherie Blair has agreed to chair this group. She is a committed campaigner for women and girls in the developing world. Her contribution will be invaluable.
Ahead of the first meeting Cheri Blair said:
"Women are the drivers of change across the world. They are far more likely than men to invest their incomes back into their families - helping to drive up better health standards and educational opportunities for their children, which in turn benefits the wider community.
That's why working for the economic independence of women is vital to the fight against global poverty. But there are so many barriers faced by women and girls in the developing world, that they are often unable to participate in economic or political life and struggle to get access to healthcare and education for themselves, let alone their families.
We need to look afresh at how countries like the UK, through their development efforts, can help make a real difference to the status and power of women in the developing world."