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Time to Celebrate! Our New Law Will Help Millions Around the World...

25/03/2014 13:02 GMT | Updated 24/05/2014 10:59 BST

In 2010 Jason McCue, Mariella Frostrup and I had an idea. It was more of a question really. Why, when it is proven that when women are brought into the economic and political debate there is a visible and positive change, are there no laws protecting women around the developing world?

I set up The GREAT Initiative with Mariella and Jason to champion gender equality - not only women and girls but boys and men too. We champion them by offering a political platform and a global debate that will we hope resonate around the world. From our humble beginnings, we truly hit the global stage last week when our new legislation for gender equality finally achieved Royal Assent. This new law means that the UK Government has a tool for political and economic pressure in protecting and enhancing women's rights. It means that Governments in developing countries have to take into account the importance of helping disadvantage women and girls and all those without a political voice.

It is a small amendment to the 2002 International Development Act but we feel it's one that will have incredible and long-lasting effect for millions, as it requires the UK government to harness the potential of the forgotten half - to financially champion the women, the girls and the minorities around the world. It was thanks to Bill Cash MP who agreed with us and put forward the private member's Bill and both his and DFID Secretary-of-State Justine Greening's tenacity that "Bill's Bill" sailed through both houses with no opposition.

As a result of the Bill the UK Government now has a legal undertaking that DIFD (and indirectly the Foreign Office) must consider the impact on gender equality for every penny of the UK's annual £7bn overseas aid spend. Justine Greening has called the legislation a "landmark" and a "breakthrough moment for girls and women."

Overseas aid is always a controversial subject, which makes the support from the likes of Bill Cash, Lord McColl and the Prime Minister show how important this law could prove to be. David Cameron said: "the Bill will make Britain have a leading role in examining gender equality before we deploy aid and other resources".

We believe that the moral argument we have brought to the table makes financial and political sense as well; you can never have a truly develop the planet when half the population is held back.

Whether through sexual violence, child marriage, economic or educational disadvantage, women and girls and minorities need our help to get ahead.

The new law mandates Government to consider gender equality across the board. From emergency disasters procedure: sanitary packs, well-lit gender segregated washing areas, whistles and torches, to more long-lasting approaches. If the UK are providing tractors to boost agriculture we should be training women to drive them too. If we are encouraging Burma to adopt democracy this should include women's representation. We need to encourage countries to offer women land and property inheritance rights and so secure their financial independence.

This is not just about creating policy that directly relates to gender e.g reducing maternal mortality, getting more girls in school, ending early marriage (though these issues are vital and the Bill reinforces that) the law will apply across the board and requires DFID to consider the effects on men and women, girls and boys in areas where it may not traditionally have been considered like agriculture, transport, water and sanitation, demobilisation. You might build a clinic in an under-served area so more women are able to give birth safely, but without investing in a road network to connect communities in hard-to-reach areas to the clinic, women won't be able to access it.

For us work on the Bill does not end today. In some ways, it is just beginning. We will be working to ensure the Bill is implemented at home and replicated abroad. We will be monitoring its impact and lending our support to DFID as it works to integrate gender across the board.

To donate to the Great Initiative go to www.thegreatinitiative.org.uk