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Developing Countries: Religious Freedom

Question for Department for International Development

UIN 1914, tabled on 18 October 2019

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, if he will include modules on freedom of religion or belief in his Department's capacity building programmes in Pakistan and other countries with reported violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief.

Answered on

25 October 2019

DFID already includes elements in our capacity building programmes which benefit religious minorities in Pakistan. Our new Aawaz II Accountability, Inclusion and Reducing Modern Slavery Programme builds on the Aawaz Voice and accountability programme. It will continue to work with communities to promote rights of children, women, youth and religious minorities, protect them from exploitation, and prevent discrimination.

Through our Skills Development Programme, we fund the Punjab Skills Development Fund to provide technical and vocational skills training to the poor and vulnerable, including those from minority communities. An exclusive skills scheme has recently been launched by this Fund for religious minorities. Under this scheme, 5,000 people from religious minorities (40% women) who are unemployed will be trained in a variety of trades.

More widely, through UK Aid Connect, DFID is funding a consortium led by the Institute of Development Studies to address challenges in building tolerance and freedom of religion and belief. In November 2018, Lord Ahmad and Lord Bates launched a £12 million UK Aid Connect programme to promote and defend freedom of religion or belief. This will make poverty reduction programmes more inclusive by highlighting and redressing religious inequalities, with a focus on highly volatile contexts.