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British Royals

The Countess of Wessex in major international conference on sexual violence in conflict

The Countess of Wessex has led discussions on ending sexual violence in conflict at a major conference in London.

The Countess was joined by Ukraine’s First Lady, Olena Zelenska, at the event which focuses on tackling the ongoing attacks on women, men and children and supporting victims of the violence.

Representatives from over 70 countries are taking part in the conference across two days.

The International Conference for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, hosted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, aims to put survivors of sexual violence in conflict at the centre of the worldwide response.

During the first day of the conference, the Countess of Wessex joined a debate on the work of the Panzi Foundation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, led by the organisation’s founder, Dr. Joseph Mukwege. Sophie saw the Foundation’s work first hand on a visit to the country in October 2022.

Nadia Murad, who was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Dr. Mukwege for work against sexual violence in conflict, also joined the debate.

Speaking at the conference, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly announced a new, three year strategy to tackle sexual violence in conflict with new funding of £12.5 million.

The strategy will be focused on seven countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia, Iraq, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Bosnia and Ukraine.

It will also put a greater impetus on bringing perpetrators to justice and will focus on developing the use of courtroom techniques that lessen the trauma of giving evidence for victims.

The Countess of Wessex will also attend a reception being held on November 29th by Queen Camilla at Buckingham Palace to raise awareness of violence against women and girls as part of the UN 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence

About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.