Monday, 23 June 2014

The Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict in London attracted worldwide media coverage, not just because of Angelina Jolie’s attendance in her role as the UNHCR Special Envoy but also because the co-chair for the conference was William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary. This was to be no ordinary talkfest resulting in resolutions achieving little coverage. This was mainstream! The list of speakers assembled a diverse range of thought leaders and decision makers and the stage was set for real outcomes to be achieved.
WILPF was a high profile participant from inception and the English summer infused a sense of optimism in everyone attending. There is nothing like London in summer! The WILPF team from across the world approached our week with enthusiasm and hope that real results could be achieved.
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WILPF Delegation
When WILPF was founded in 1915, the world was embroiled in the Great War. It encompassed all parts of the globe and it was at this time that 1,136 brave women crossed the front lines to meet at The Hague in neutral Netherlands to work towards ending the war.
99 years later, the world is a very different place but yet we find ourselves continually engulfed in armed conflict in what seems as every corner of the globe.
As the longest serving women’s peace organisation, WILPF attended to ensure that our internationally unified voices were heard – to communicate to the world that ending sexual violence in conflict is essential. The only way to achieve our goal is to address conflict’s three root causes.
Firstly, we must challenge patriarchy, violence, masculinity and gender inequality. All gender-based violence is a cause and a consequence of such instilled institutions, predicated on highly gendered cultural conditions. It continues to occur as a result of patriarchal values embedded in communities. We must work to counter gender inequality and improve impunity and promote social justice, fighting patriarchy with gender equality.
Secondly, the continued armament of states and non-state actors exacerbates sexual violence in pre, during and post conflict conditions. We must stop profiting from arms sales and bring corporations and government to account for the continued transfer of arms to situations where it being used as a tool for sexual violence is a known risk. This can be solved by the adoption the Arms Trade Treaty passed in 2013, and taking action on disarming sexual violence through the implementation of its gender criteria.
The third cause we must address is exclusion. Too often women are not included at the table during peace negotiations. It is integral that women and gender perspectives be incorporated into peace processes. Without addressing sexual violence in peace agreements, sustainable developments towards peace cannot be made.