Day two of the Global Summit had all of the buzz and excitement of the first day, but with a greater air of steely determination and getting down to business. The Department for International Development launched their new 5-year programme: ‘What Works in Preventing Violence against Women and Girls?’, pledging £25 million towards research in a number of African countries. The particular focus of the project will be intimate partner violence, so as not to overlap with two of their ongoing programmes tackling early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation.
Wednesday also saw some of the more harrowing discussions of the Summit. Women for Gender Justice hosted two former child soldiers, both women, who gave personal accounts of being abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda. They both testified to having been subjected to kidnapping, forced labour, beatings, rape and cruel and degrading treatment; both survivors managed to escape the camps and find their way to safety; both received psychological and physical treatment following their ordeal. The survivors asked the Ugandan government to do more to reintegrate former child soldiers into their communities, assist them to re-start their lives, and provide more care and support to them and their families. They related a strong stigmatisation of former child soldiers, and the rejection of these individuals by their former communities: branded as killers and, for the many girls who returned pregnant or with children, unclean, they are unable to return to lead a normal life.
The path has been set for Thursday, which will see the arrival of ministers from all over the world. At the Summit today, delegates met with experts to discuss sexual violence in conflict and to hear expert opinions on effective methods to prevent, tackle and prosecute this crime, before Thursday’s Ministerial level sessions begin. It is important that this Summit leads to clear action, and ministers will be expected to pledge real resources towards ending sexual violence in conflict.
The Summit Fringe is open all day today, we do hope that if you haven’t come along already, you will make your way to the ExCel between 9.00am and 7.30pm.