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APPG on Women, Peace and Security: Women in Diplomacy, a discussion on conflict-related sexual violence

On Tuesday 7th of February, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women, Peace and Security (APPG-WPS) hosted an event titled “Women in DiplomacyThe event was co-chaired by Baroness Hodgson, co-chair of the APPG -WPS, and MP Flick Drummond, focusing on the current realities for women and girls who experience conflict-related sexual violence, and discussions and reflections of the UK Government’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) and its Conference which took place in London on the 28th to 29th of November 2022.

Mrs Ivita Burmistre, Ambassador of Latvia, began the event by discussing the global challenges of conflict-related sexual violence as we witness new vases of the weaponization of sexual violence. Mrs Burmistre reflects on the UK Government’s 2022 PSVI conference, which brought together a broad range of stakeholders, as well as testimonials from survivors of conflict-related violence. She ends her discussion my reaffirming the importance of keeping PSVI high on the priority list, the necessity to implement commitments made by a number of countries and work on identifying practical actions to take to implement concrete change.

Lord Ahmad followed and discussed the recent abhorrent reports about sexual violence being used as a weapon of war in Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Lord Ahmad goes on to share their reflections from the 2022 PSVI Conference; the announcement of £12.5 million going towards promoting women participation in conflict resolution, the use of sanctions to tackle violence in conflict afflicted areas such as Mali, Myanmar and South Sudan, and commitment of £2.5 million to Ukraine to investigate war crimes.

Baroness Helić highlights how gender-based violence increases in severity in conflict, where it is estimated that 20-30% of women and girls experience conflict-related sexual violence. She adds on to this by sharing how gender-based violence is persistent and is present in almost every single conflict. Baroness Helić suggests that this may be as a result of lack of accountability for those who commit such crimes, thus gender-based violence in conflict is widespread, systemic and rooted in impunity. Ultimately, she advocates for a new permanent commission that solely focuses on conflict-related sexual violence. In this way, a commission will allow expertise to be pooled into one place, which will help to increase the pressure to investigate and make accountability and justice more of a reality.

Finally, Anna Kvit, a visiting Research Fellow from the University College of London expands on remarks shared by speakers earlier. She begins by discussing how conflict-related sexual violence is an “invisible crime” because it is underreported. In the case of the war in Ukraine, conflict-related violence is used by the Russian military to oppress local populations, as well as attack the community and relations at the family and community level. Echoing the same sentiments as Baroness Helić, she shares how there needs to be an improvement in legislation to respond to respond to conflict-related sexual violence. Response is also stunted due to lack of understanding of the gendered nature of the crime and lack of knowledge and skills on how to work with survivors. She ends her discussion by raising awareness on the vulnerabilities of Ukrainian refugees, who are also vulnerable after leaving Ukraine. She suggests that we need to work with Ukrainian refugees outside of Ukraine, providing them with information and access to gender-based violence services.

Baroness Hodgson provides closing remarks, concludes the event and thanks the speakers.


*For full details and attendance please email

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