When Angelina Jolie and William Hague arrive unannounced at your stall at an international summit, what do you say? “Thanks for stopping by!” is what came out of my mouth (Anchorman fans will get the reference). What I should have said was: “do you know about ActionAid’s theory of change for tackling violence against women and girls?”
We held a stall at this week’s summit on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict at London’s Excel Centre, the biggest summit ever of its kind. Foreign Secretary William Hague and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees co-hosted the event.
Its aims were to end the culture of impunity for perpetrators, increase support for survivors, and produce “a seismic shift in attitudes” on the subject of sexual violence.
When Angelina stopped by our stall, she picked up her very own copy of our booklet on this subject (you can, too, here), so she’s all set to find out that:
• Violence against women and girls is the most widespread form of abuse worldwide, affecting one third of all women in their lifetime. Sexual violence is one of the most destructive and widespread violations of human rights in countries affected by conflict.
• It is important to reduce all forms of violence against women and girls, in times of peace as well as times of war.
• Ending violence against women and girls is essential to fighting poverty.
From my point of view, the Summit Fringe events were a huge success and highly engaging. I hope the decisions being made behind closed doors are just as impressive, including but not limited to investing in women’s rights organisations, who against innumerable odds have advanced this issue to where it is today in London’s docklands.
The hashtag for the summit is #timetoact. I couldn’t have put it better myself.