Together for Girls and partners held session highlighting the power of education to prevent conflict-related sexual violence
Ten years after the launch of the United Kingdom Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI), the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCDO) hosted the second ever international PSVI conference in London from November 28-29, 2022.
The PSVI conference brought together nearly 1000 participants, including over 50 government ministers, other government representatives, experts, and survivors from around the world, with the shared mission of ending conflict-related sexual violence. It was an opportunity for the international community to listen to survivors, showcase progress, and most importantly, secure new global commitments to end sexual violence in conflict.
“This is an important historical moment to come together internationally, and continue to shape the support of the survivors, but also the children born into it,” said Lejla Damon at the conference. Lejla was born out of conflict-related sexual violence during the Balkan wars in the 1990s.
During the conference, Together for Girls and the Brave Movement, in collaboration with the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), Safe to Learn, the Global Partnership for Education, and Education Cannot Wait, co-created a session focused on the crucial role of education in protecting children, supporting survivors, and preventing sexual violence in conflict.
The session, “The power of education to prevent conflict-related sexual violence,” featured remarks and discussion from government ministers, young leaders, and survivors of sexual violence outlining their solutions for preventing sexual violence in and through education, and building gender-responsive and transformative, as well as resilient, crisis-proof education systems.
Josephine Kamara, a survivor, Global Partnership for Education youth leader, feminist activist, and senior advocacy manager with Purposeful, facilitated a panel discussion with Hon. David Sengeh, Minister of Education for Sierra Leone; Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait; Suresh Chhetry, Brave Movement SAGE member and Executive Director of Healing Together Nepal; Nadine Tunasi, UK PSVI survivor champion; Sarah Amu, youth advocate for Education in Emergencies; and Alicia Herbert, OBE, Director of the Education, Gender and Equality Directorate (EdGE), at FCDO.
Suresh Chhetry, Brave Movement co-founder, spoke on the panel about the impact of survivors’ voices in formulating solutions. A survivor of childhood sexual violence, Suresh is a powerful global advocate for survivor-led solutions to childhood sexual violence and also leads Healing Together Nepal, an organization that empowers individuals and communities to disrupt cycles of trauma and harm.
“No one knows how to end childhood sexual violence more than survivors themselves,” Chhetry said.
The Minister of Education for Sierra Leone, Hon. David Sengeh spoke on the panel and called on all governments to sign the Freetown Manifesto, developed to build momentum for gender equality in and through education.
“When countries commit to investing in ending all forms of violence, that’s when we accelerate towards change,” Sengeh said.
Minister Sengeh shared his thoughts on the PSVI conference, his work to catalyze Sierra Leone’s leadership on ensuring children’s access to safe, inclusive, and gender-transformative education, and the urgency of more government and stakeholder commitments to the safe schools agenda.
During the conference, Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, Minister of State in the FCDO, announced his endorsement of the Manifesto, committing to transforming education systems, pedagogies, institutions, and mindsets for gender equality.
During the PSVI conference, many countries agreed to take concrete action to end sexual violence in conflict. Commitments included: