- Liz Truss will lead a new global agreement to condemn the use of rape and sexual violence as weapons of war as a “red line” on par with chemical weapons.
- The UK will host a world summit next year to unite the world around action to prevent sexual violence in conflict.
- Foreign Minister announces women and girls will be at the center of her foreign policy priorities, with more than Â£ 20million in new funding to help end violence against women and girls in the world.
Foreign Minister Liz Truss is launching today (Tuesday, November 16) a major global campaign to end sexual violence against women and girls in conflicts around the world.
Speaking at an event for the Gender Equality Advisory Council (GEAC) – established under the UK’s G7 Presidency to support women and girls around the world – the Foreign Secretary, who is also Minister British Women and Equalities, will launch new pressure from the UK to break the culture of impunity around the use of rape and sexual violence as weapons of war.
It brings together close partners to condemn rape and sexual violence in conflict as a âred lineâ. All options are on the table, including an international convention, to end such heinous acts once and for all.
The Foreign Secretary will also announce today that the UK will host a global conference next year to unite the world in action to prevent sexual violence in conflict. The conference will bring together foreign ministers from around the world to support the campaign to end impunity for violence against women and girls.
The announcements mark the start of a broader initiative by the Foreign Secretary to ensure that women and girls are at the center of UK foreign policy priorities.
The UK is already a world leader in tackling violence against women and girls and supporting their rights internationally. While serving as Foreign Secretary, the Prime Minister signed the UK’s Safe Schools Declaration, pledging to protect schools during military operations and armed conflict. Under the UK Presidency, the G7 countries pledged to send 40 million girls to school and this year the UK hosted the Global Partnership for Education Summit, raising Â£ 2.9 billion for educate children. This included Â£ 430million pledged by the UK.
The Foreign Secretary will strengthen the UK’s commitment to women and girls around the world today, announcing:
- Â£ 18million in new funding to end child marriage through partners UNICEF and UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund). This funding will benefit women and girls in 12 countries, including Sierra Leone, Uganda, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Yemen. UK support for this work has already helped prevent 25 million child marriages over the past decade.
- A Â£ 3million boost to organizations on the front lines of violence against women and girls. This will help survivors access health care and counseling, as well as prevent violence, including educating men and boys. This funding will also support work with governments to improve policies and legislation.
- Â£ 1.4million in new funding for the Global Survivors Fund, which helps support survivors of sexual violence, including through financial support and education.
Foreign Minister and Minister for Women and Equality Liz Truss said:
In conflicts around the world, women and girls continue to face horrific sexual violence, with rape being repeatedly used as a weapon of war.
I am absolutely clear that the UK must lead the way in breaking the impunity and indifference in which these acts are perpetrated. I will make it my mission to work with countries and international partners to establish a new agreement to condemn them as a âred lineâ and end it for good.
Women and girls around the world must live free from violence, have access to education and employment, and have the opportunity to realize their full potential.
The Foreign Minister’s campaign will build on years of work by his predecessor William Hague, who set up the Sexual Conflict Violence Prevention Initiative with UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie in 2012. Lord Ahmad, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative, is working directly with the Minister of Foreign Affairs on this initiative.
After the last UK-led summit in 2014, the International Protocol on Documenting and Investigating Sexual Violence in Conflict was launched, which has been used by the International Criminal Court, the UN and lawyers. , police, medical personnel and NGOs to collect evidence. and investigate crimes to help strengthen prosecutions in at least a dozen countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America.
Globally, one in three women will experience physical and / or sexual violence in her lifetime. A UK-funded study in South Sudan found that up to 73% of women had experienced domestic violence and one in three had experienced conflict-related sexual violence.
The announcements follow a report by GEAC, a group of independent experts convened by the Prime Minister under Britain’s G7 presidency, which outlines the scale of the challenge to advance on gender equality in the age of Covid. He recommended to G7 leaders that global action is needed to end violence against women and girls by investing more in prevention and response.
GEAC President Sarah Sands said:
It is very good news that the Foreign Secretary has promised that the UK will not look away when it comes to these war crimes.
We had to call for sexual violence in conflict zones to become a red line after hearing testimony from our board member Dr Mukwege, who saw firsthand the victims and the consequences for women, families and communities. As he asked, âWhen does this end? We have to work to make sure.
- The GEAC report included a recommendation that the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war be condemned as a âred lineâ. It can be found here.
- GEAC is an independent group of experts that was convened by Prime Minister Boris Johnson under Britain’s G7 presidency. GEAC is charged with upholding the fundamental principles of freedom, opportunity, individual humanity and dignity for women and girls around the world. In a context of recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic, the GEAC recommendations focus on education, economic empowerment and the end of violence against women and girls.
- Â£ 18million will be invested in the UNICEF-UNFPA Global Program to End Child Marriage (UNGP), the largest multi-donor program on child marriage. UNGP works in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia and Yemen. This will be the second phase of British support to the UNGP. Phase I supported nearly 8 million adolescent girls with life skills education, vocational training, comprehensive sex education and girls’ clubs to prevent and address child marriage.
- The UK has pledged an additional Â£ 3million to the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, which supports small civil society organizations and organizations led by women to end violence in the world, bringing our total contribution to Â£ 25million since 2014.
- Since 2013, UK aid programs have helped more than 10,000 communities, representing more than 27 million people, to commit to ending female genital mutilation (FGM).
- The UK’s flagship program, What Works to Prevent Violence, has implemented new approaches around the world that have shown reductions in violence of around 50%. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a project with religious leaders halved women’s experience of domestic violence and led to a more than five-fold reduction in non-marital sexual violence. The second phase of this program began this year with the aim of reducing rates of violence around the world, increasingly using methods that have already shown results.