‘Small is great’ : The Annual CFID Lecture with Penny Mordaunt

Conservative Friends of International Development (CFID) work to promote effective international development and Conservative values, and this year, their annual lecture saw Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for International Development and Minister for Women and Equalities deliver a keynote speech.

Established in 2011 by Baroness Jenkin, CFID aims to:

encourage enterprise, opportunity and aspiration for every family, no matter where they live;
foster a UK international development policy that tackles the causes and consequences of absolute poverty;
encourage its members to speak out about the value delivered to Britain by effective aid, free trade and conflict prevention.

At the lecture, Mordaunt spoke about how she wanted the public to “be proud” of the work DFID does.

She pointed to changes that have been made since the start of her tenure, pointing out the new higher spending cap that enables the department to demonstrate that money is being spent in the national interest. There’s now a focus on the win/win agenda – getting UK aid to work twice as hard in the national interest as well as creating greater coherence within government as to what UK aid should be working for. The human capital index, operated by the World Bank, is now used for making funding decisions.

Mordaunt explained that the British public “want to see that it (DFID) is reflecting their values” which has led to greater focus on policies that are in sync with the concerns of the public. This includes tackling climate change and working with the British Legion to support pre-independence Commonwealth veterans.

Looking towards the future, Mordaunt focused on the national conversation that will begin with financial services, pension providers and the public around closing the financial gap that exists to achieving the Global Goals.

The Global Goals will be embedded into philanthropy projects and there will be a greater focus on the “small is great” agenda and the benefits of small grants. The future for international development and UK aid will also be developed through innovation, with policy “aided by the new things in our toolbox” such as drone technology.

The more we show the public of the benefits and the real change that U.K. aid can do, the better. Mordaunt touched on how a few years ago, “you weren’t putting the issues through the letterbox or on social media but now you are”, and that working on issues such as climate change have led a reconnection with the public.

Challenges do exist for the Department for International Development as domestic priorities come up against the Global Britain agenda, but Mordaunt said that “we have to have in mind that we are spending funds in the best way possible, if we get the win/win agenda right, then we will achieve the Global Goals” by 2030.

The lecture also saw presentations from Baroness Nicholson, Nimko Ali and Theodora Clarke.

Baroness Nicholson, the Executive Chairman of the AMAR Foundation, spoke about how driving up education and health care can improve lives in developing countries. Nicholson described female genital mutilation as “one of the worst and most horrific punishments the world ever thought of for little girls”.

On tackling FGM, Nimco Ali, the Founder of Daughters of Eve and CEO of The Five Foundations, said that that meeting the goal of eradicating it by 2030 was achievable, and “we can end FGM in a generation”. There are 70 million girls at risk of FGM, and Nimco described them as being treated “not as active citizens but as products to exchange”. She pointed out that work carried out so far on tackling FGM is a “snapshot of the power of empowering women” and called for funding to help women on the front line. The decrease in FGM in West Kenya from 80 to 20% shows how leveraging resources globally and building skills locally with small grants can help achieve the 2030 goal.

Closing the remarks, Theo Clarke, CEO of the Coalition for Global Prosperity, explained that UK aid is “not just the right thing to do, but in our national interest” and that there was a huge amount of work to do in order to persuade the party membership around to 0.7% funding commitment which “we need to explain better to the taxpayer”.

CFID is doing great work in bringing Conservative Party supporters with an interest in international development together. It is through the sharing of ideas, best practice and innovation that we can build a more safer, stable and prosperous world for all citizens. It is right that the United Kingdom is at the forefront of this drive.

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