THE BLOG

Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict by Empowering Women

11/12/2014 06:09 GMT | Updated 09/02/2015 10:59 GMT

To end sexual violence in conflict, there needs to be more women in senior positions within the UN and other international organisations, more female ambassadors to the UN; and more women in the police and military.

It is fitting that the Summit Report for the End Sexual Violence in Conflict Global Summit was released on international Human Rights Day. Who can quickly forget the images of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt walking through the doors of the Summit and lending their international status to such an incredible event? My favourite showpiece, in the array of stands and events, was the Hackathon which looked at using innovative technology to combat human rights abuses.

From 10 - 13 of June 2014 in London, government representatives from over 120 countries, over 1000 experts, faith leaders, youth organisations and representatives of civil society and international organisations came together at the Global Summit to tackle sexual violence in conflict as a matter of "common humanity". The 68 page report published on the 10th of December 2014 starts with a message from Ms Jolie who is the Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and ends with a thank you to all the organisations who took part. In between is a Chair's summary which graphically depicts the scale of the problem that arises in this uniquely destructive act and method of war.

The report succinctly summarises the progress that has been made so far as well as the necessary steps for the future, including that "there must be no safe haven for perpetrators anywhere". Put shortly, the Summit "committed to break the taboo around wartime rape and to take action to put an end to its use, and to shatter the culture of impunity". The report recognises that the Summit unified the globe in calling for "concrete, practical and forward looking outcomes... to ensure that no corner of the globe is left untouched by [our] campaign".

The Summit saw the launch of the International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict which sets out "international standards on how to collect the strongest possible information and evidence, whilst protecting witnesses, in order to deter future perpetrators". In particular, the report highlights, not just the role of governments, but the "important role that women have to play in maintaining international peace and security".

Despite being largely excluded form formal processes, women's groups have long called for an end to violence, localised mediation and efforts towards reconciliation. The Summit recognised community activism on the ground, that laws are not enough and attitudes need to change.

Faith organisations need to be engaged as active partners to formulate strategies and provide front line support. Accountability through the justice sector needs to be effective and legal frameworks need to deliver justice. This will involve standardisation of definitions of sexual violence in domestic legislation to conform with international law and a strengthening of evidence collection to help bring perpetrators to justice. It requires initiatives at every level globally to ensure that sexual violence in conflict ends and in the meantime there is holistic support for survivors. Emancipation, empowerment and an end to impunity are simple words for a complex global problem.

The report makes it clear that the Summit was just the beginning. Countries have said they are committed to ending sexual violence. They can achieve this by enabling active and meaningful participation of women...... In the ultimate no brainer the Chair's summary ends: "Having come together we must move forward with a collective responsibility, showing leadership at all levels on ending sexual violence in conflict" #TIMETOACT