Lord Dholakia speaking in the House of Lords in a debate to celebrate International Women’s Day drew attention to the statistics setting out the trends in female representation in public life.
He said the statistics are predictable. The rate of advancement of women has been slow, and there remain many areas and positions where women are significantly under-represented. It is right that we celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women; but there is much more to be done.
Lord Dholakia continued,” This debate is comes in a week when the media has highlighted the dispossessed in our society. It has called for action to tackle deprivation. In the richest capital in Europe, almost half our children live below the poverty line. A society cannot live in peace and celebrate success if a great many of our population live in poverty and squalor. There must be a determined effort to eradicate the factors that condemn individuals to the so-called cycle of deprivation. Elimination of poverty and deprivation, both nationally and internationally, should not remain simply a political issue”.
Lord Dholakia drew attention to the significant role of voluntary organisations in the elimination of poverty.
Lord Dholakia declared his association with the work of Plan International. He said,” Plan International is an independent organisation with no religious, political or governmental affiliation. It has a vision of a world in which all children reach their full potential in societies that respect people's rights and dignity”.
He continued by saying, “Our research into the state of the world's girls and young women over the past three years has revealed that they are often among the most vulnerable people in any given community: more likely to miss out on education and less able than their brothers to make a living. No one can dispute that girls are as capable as boys.
Wherever in the world resources are provided for their advancement and development the results are striking. Give a girl skills and opportunities and we will be rewarded with a healthier, more educated, society”.
Lord Dholakia concluded by citing the key recommendations of Plans Report I am a girl he said.” The recommendations we should be pursuing are: prioritising girls' education; challenging gender stereotypes; educating girls in post-conflict and post-disaster settings; increasing vocational training opportunities; listening to and involving girls; and collecting better data on female outcomes in education.
Let us hope that we can move in that direction.