Monday marked the end of a long wait. 45 years, to be exact. The International Development Bill passed its third reading - the last step before Royal Assent. The Bill will enshrine in law the UK's commitment to invest 0.7 per cent of our national income (GNI) in international aid. But who is celebrating?
At every point in history women have always struggled for recognition, rights and equality. This year is no different. The journey for women in the UK, and globally, is far from over. Our incomes and ownership of resources still lag behind men's. Our representation when important decisions are being made - whether in parliaments, boardrooms, or negotiating tables - is paltry. The demands on our time, particularly from unpaid work and care, are overwhelming. And one in three of us will experience violent assault in our lifetime. But I firmly believe the tables are turning.
I glean some insights from this year's speakers regarding their take on 'moving home', particularly for those who have spent most of their lives outside of the continent. On balance, they identify the availability of skilled human capital as a crucial element to fuel development although highlight a few things to consider before heading back.
David Cameron has undermined progress towards UHC by supporting private health provision in developing countries. Take India, for example, where the UK Government subsidised a private diabetes hospital which only caters for the better off. This is why Labour will demand that Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is put at the heart of the global development agenda
For the children suffering physical and emotional trauma after fleeing gunfire in the Central African Republic, or the families rebuilding their lives after extensive flooding in Pakistan and Bangladesh, UK aid is a lifeline that helps them start over again... Legislating will mean that the political and public debate shifts away from a focus on how much we spend to the effectiveness of UK aid, so that we can save as many lives as possible. For nurses, doctors and teachers in some of the world's poorest countries, it is imperative to be able to plan service provision for the years to come.
Sadly the saying about 'living off the fat of the land' looks all too anachronistic: half of the world's hungry people are themselves farmers. But if you suggest that farmers in developing countries who grow our food should be paid more, people throw up their hands in horror and cry: 'What about consumers in Europe? How can they afford to pay more? We must keep food prices down for them'.
Ten years ago, in October 2004, there were 812m internet users worldwide - 12.7 per cent of the global population. The web had 50m sites; a Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg, had just started Facebook, and Flickr had just been launched as a chat room for an online multiplayer game with real-time photo sharing.
I suspect most of us want to see an effective international aid programme. But only by addressing some of the institutional processes by which money is awarded and projects assessed are we likely to feel as confident as we ought that British international aid is making the difference it should, and difference it could.
The US and UK have recently made the largest efforts in terms of military deployments and money but many other states are still neglecting their responsibilities. Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, and David Cameron have noted that EU members such as Italy and Spain need to step forward with resources and act now.