Last week, from June 10 – 13, world leaders gathered in London, England for the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. An important international milestone, civil society members from around the world waited eagerly throughout the final day on Friday for news worthy of the summit’s #TimeToAct Twitter hashtag.
And while the event has played an important role in building global momentum for women’s rights, many individuals feel that the Summit has ultimately failed to keep its promises in identifying concrete actions that the international community can take to end the widespread use of rape as a weapon of war.
Prior to the Summit, the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict, of which The MATCH Fund is a member, urged the international community to seriously consider three key actions that governments could take: (1) Ensure women’s participation in 100% of peace processes and negotiations; (2) Increase funding to women’s organizations that are providing survivors of sexual violence with medical, psychological, legal and livelihood support and services; and (3) Enforce national laws to hold perpetrators accountable for acts of sexual violence.
On Friday, members of the International Campaign made a statement indicating their disappointment with the results of the Summit. The statement expressed the frustration felt by a lack of tangible results produced, including very little financial and policy commitments made by national governments. They also commented on both the lack of survivor representation as well as civil society representation at the meetings.
Women leading the way forward.
Many of those who were unable to attend the Global Summit in London joined the conversation online using the hashtag #TimeToAct. Here were the many missing voices of survivors and women’s human rights activists and advocates sharing their stories of not only violence and loss but also of survival and progress.
Leymah Gbowee, Nobel peace laureate and co-chair of the International Campaign, stressed that the #TimeToAct hashtag is calling specifically for action and support from the international community. She highlighted the fact that many women around the world are acting right now to address this issue in their communities, be it in Sri Lanka, Syria, or the Democratic Republic of Congo. These are the women who need our support and they need it now.
The MATCH Fund’s newest grantee partner: Akina Mama wa Afrika.
We know that women play a critical role in ending sexual violence in conflict. That’s why we are pleased to announce our new partnership with Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), a pan-African organization based out of Uganda, which is building the capacity of women leaders in the Great Lakes Region to be active participants in peace negotiation processes. Ensuring women are present and active at these talks will be critical to ending sexual violence in these conflict and post-conflict areas. This was the first ask from the International Campaign at the Global Summit, and AMwA is working to ensure that it will be met.
AMwA is an example of an organization that has been acting for decades to end sexual violence in conflict—they are a part of the “we” that Leymah is talking about. A well-established women’s rights organization, AMwA’s aims are to both strengthen and promote African women’s feminist leadership. They work to build the capacity of women to become leaders in all aspects of their life. Their name (translated from Swahili) means “Solidarity among African Women” – a name chosen to highlight that their organization is led by African women and for African women.
Make the commitment: It is our time to act.
It is now our #TimeToAct – time for us to make clear commitments and take brave steps to support the women who have been acting for decades on the ground to end sexual violence in conflict, women like those leading AMwA and countless other women’s rights organizations around the world. To learn more about AMwA, visit their website. To make a donation to The MATCH International Women’s Fund and support women’s rights organizations like AMwA, click here.