British High Commission partners with Guardian Media on International Women's Day

Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - 13:30

Guardian Media and the British High Commission are working together on empowering girls through education, in recognition of International Women's Day, Thursday.

The campaign will allow a girl the chance to be a Guardian News Editor for a day.

The British High Commission in Port-of-Spain has issued the following statement in recognition of International Women's Day:

"No country can flourish if half of its population is left behind. Gender equality should be considered “easy to do and hard to ignore”.

In Britain we are proud of what has already been achieved, but determined there should be no complacency. More needs to be done.

The British High Commission is partnering with Guardian Media to focus on girls’ education and how it can empower girls through choice. Why? Because across the world 130 million girls are not in school.

Many are likely to be forced into early marriage. And we know that when girls are educated they are able to contribute to a safer and more prosperous world, reducing conflict and increasing stability. It’s not just that. I believe we have a moral obligation to work for women and girls being treated equally, being empowered and feeling safe. It’s not just the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do.

Educating girls also increases their voice in their communities, improves their ability to choose when to get married and how many children to have, and gives them greater control over their assets, income and their own bodies. Latest global estimates suggest that if women were operating at their full potential, playing the same role in labour markets as men, £22 trillion or 26% could be added to the world’s gross domestic product.

Investing in girls’ education is a smart investment for us to make. It is one of the single biggest things we can do to improve stability and reduce conflict. I believe that gender equality is integral to a better world.

The Foreign Secretary has made girls’ education a top personal priority. He underlined this commitment last year by appointing the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s first Special Envoy for Gender Equality, Joanna Roper. She has been mandated to work to get more girls into education across the globe. And we’re putting our money where our mouth is in other ways too. UK Aid is helping 6.5 million

girls into education from 2015 to 2020, and helping 36 million women access financial services.

In my High Commission gender equality is one of my core values.

Two-thirds of my staff are women, as are half of my team leaders. We consider gender balance in all strands of our work, not to meet some artificially imposed quota, but because it delivers better results. I know how powerful it is to give everyone a voice. We make better decisions.

We’ve also focused on gender issues in some of our work here. Last year we partnered with the EU Delegation to Trinidad and Tobago to launch our #LetsTalkTT campaign. During it we have used panel discussions, performances and creative interactive debates online to promote the national conversation and break the taboo on talking about gender based violence. You can see live streams of our events on our Facebook page, UKinTT.

I’m very pleased to be entering this new partnership with Guardian Media and to be helping share experiences on this serious social issue. We need to talk more about the issues facing women and to act, working together, to help empower women to reach their full potential. I hope you’ll support the wider effort in Trinidad & Tobago today to #PressForProgress.

Happy International Women’s Day."