Author Archives: Lindsay Northover

One year on from the Nepal Earthquake

 

It is one year since the earthquake in Nepal which killed nearly nine thousand people, injured tens of thousands, and left half a million families homeless. Even before this tragic event, Nepal was one of the twenty poorest countries in the world, and the estimated economic impact of the earthquake was around $10 billion, fifty percent of its entire GDP. There was no question that the UK would help Nepal in the aftermath of the disaster, both in terms of emergency humanitarian relief and also longer term rebuilding. Within a month of the earthquake, which happened when I was a DFID minister, we had released over £33 million of help, including match-funding the £5 million in donations given privately by generous people across the UK.

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Baroness Lindsay Northover writes…As time goes by

At the Spring conference we will debate a topic which has spanned my whole political lifetime.  We will be debating a motion on increasing the diversity among our future MPs.

In that election night in May 2015 we not only lost wonderful male MPs, we also lost all of our wonderful women MPs.

One of the things we must do as we rebuild our Party is to ensure that we have a more diverse group of MPs.  Like the other major parties in Britain.

I joined the SDP, new to politics, back in 1981.  I was excited by the new party, the realignment of politics – but especially its emphasis on women being as prominent in the party as men.  How could it not do so, with one leader being my beloved Shirley Williams?  Its equivalent of the Federal Executive was gender balanced – each region elected one man and one woman.  We were the first political party in the UK to insist that women must be included on parliamentary shortlists. I was selected from such a shortlist to fight Welwyn Hatfield in 1983 and 1987.  (The more winnable seats close by – Stevenage and St Albans – were of course fought by men.)

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Baroness Lindsay Northover writes…Our MPs must include women as well as men

We are an internationalist party.  We believe in human rights.  Our constitution commits us to equality, as well as liberty and community.

So how can it be that we, the Lib Dems of all parties, have absolutely no women MPs?  Zero.  0.0%.

Round the world, countries and parties have addressed the paucity of women in elected positions. Our sister parties have done so. We have a history of trying to do so – but trying is not the same as succeeding.  That must change now. I am extremely glad that our Party President, Sal Brinton, and our party leader, Tim Farron, are making clear that change must happen.

The SDP and then the Lib Dems led with affirmative action until the late 1990s.  Then Labour sailed past us with women-only shortlists.  They transformed their party – and the UK Parliament. Now their Commons party is 44% women.  Even the Conservatives are almost 21%.

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Lindsay Northover writes…The Lib Dem record on LGBTI rights around the World

Today Paul Scriven has tabled a debate in the Lords on the treatment of LGBTI citizens around the World. The Lib Dems have a proud record on human rights, and support for those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) has always been extremely strong both in the UK and across the wider World.

It was after all my Lib Dem colleague in the House of Lords, Anthony Lester who initiated civil partnerships with his private member’s bill, and then persuaded the then Labour government to take his policy forward, leading to the Civil Partnership Act (2004). And of course it was my then Commons ministerial colleague, Lynne Featherstone, whom I am delighted will shortly join us in the Lords, who took this a major step forward, with the Equal Marriage Act. She stood back to allow the Conservatives to lead in the interests of the bill: so many Tories were opposed that Lib Dems leading would have been a red rag to a bull. But it was Lib Dem policy and it was her initiative to implement it.

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Baroness Lindsay Northover writes…DFID’s approach to LGBT rights

It’s been just over a month since I became our International Development Minister, and I’ve enjoyed every moment since. When she held the role, Lynne Featherstone used to say it was the best job in government and I wholeheartedly agree. Shaping and seeing first-hand how UK aid transforms the lives of the world’s poorest, most vulnerable and most marginalised people is a Lib Dem dream job.

Yesterday I met with Stonewall and the Kaleidoscope Trust to discuss what DFID is doing to address the problems faced by one of the most marginalised groups – LGBT communities in developing countries. Of course I have long drawn on the fantastic Stonewall and Kaleidoscope Trust expertise both for our domestic and international work on equalities, but I was keen to meet them in my new capacity at DFID and learn how we can best work together. Their international work is truly impressive, from educating international development NGOs on LGBT rights and concerns, to engaging global businesses to use their leverage in the fight for equality, to helping to train local campaigners across the world in campaigning and legal techniques.

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Baroness Lindsay Northover writes…Global recognition of need to tackle sexual violence must lead to action

Eliminating violence against women - Some rights reserved by European ParliamentIf you had told me twenty or even ten years ago that there would be Global Summit on combatting sexual violence against women, attended by the majority of the world’s countries, as well numerous individuals and organisations, I would not have believed you.

For ever, it has seemed, sexual violence against (mainly) women and girls has been seen as simply inevitable.  Especially in time of war.  “War, rape and pillage” just went together.

But just as in the 20th century, when genocide gave …

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