Sophie Wessex gives support to women’s initiative in 2019
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Sophie, Countess of Wessex, virtually visited South Sudan and Bosnia and Herzegovina in a new engagement at the end of week. Prince Edward’s wife was joined by the Foreign Office and campaign group ‘Free from Torture’ to raise awareness of the extent of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict. The appearance came just over a year after the Countess became the first member of the Royal Family to visit South Sudan.
Sophie travelled to the north African country in March 2020.
There she met and listened to the experiences of those affected by gender-based violence.
The nation had been plagued by six years of civil war that only came to a ceasefire in February 2020.
Sexual violence in the area was used as a tool by police and soldiers, and became a rampant problem, according to many United Nations reports.
When Sophie visited, she met women peacebuilders, who are championing equal participation in peace processes.
The Countess supports the UK’s efforts in the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI).
This is a UK Government-led initiative encourage and rally global action to end sexual violence in conflicts.
According to the Buckingham Palace website, the royal also devotes much of her time to supporting the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda.
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It is “a United Nations Initiative that aims to put more women at the centre of conflict resolution, and encourage women’s meaningful participation in peace processes”.
The group, Free from Torture, who Sophie spoke to on her call, campaign for survivors to be at the heart of finding solutions to the global issue of sexual violence in conflict.
The Countess spoke about her commitment to the cause in front of assembled women peacebuilders at Buckingham Palace on International Women’s Day in 2019.
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She said: “As someone who firmly believes in the equality of men and women, I feel drawn to your cause.
“[I want] to do what I can to help raise further awareness of your work.
“To help give voice to women and girls who are being denied their fundamental rights as humans and are being subjected to harm and violence as a result of conflict.
“To promote those who seek to play a part in finding peace.
“And to support others as they attempt to rebuild their lives.”
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