A senior delegation of Filipino women are currently in London, England to showcase the Philippines’ successful experience in driving women’s participation in peace building and to push for global change by taking part in the “Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict.”
The summit, which opened on Tuesday, will be the largest gathering on this issue. Chaired by British Foreign Secretary William Hague and UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie the summit has an ambitious goal to end the culture of impunity regarding the use of sexual violence, both as a tool and a side effect of war worldwide.
The summit will also recognize the important role that women play in peace building. It is expected to attract high-level government officials, civil society leaders and experts from around 148 countries.
In a joint message, British Ambassador Asif Ahmad and Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell said, “We want the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict to be the moment that the world wakes up and says that rape and sexual violence are not an inevitable part of war. We support the Philippine delegation on this very important occasion, which gives these extraordinary women a unique opportunity to be part of this huge effort to end a culture of impunity that still pervades in many places around the world.
“The spotlight of the world’s media will fall on the issue and bring public pressure to bear on governments and the international community to end these crimes. Over the next two weeks events will be held across the globe, including the Philippines, and we invite everyone to take part in this campaign. The time to act is now,” they concluded.
Secretary Teresita Deles of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process is leading the delegation comprised of Filipino women who have played key roles in conflict resolution and peace building. The summit will provide a global platform for sharing the significant contribution of women to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, empowering other women to take a pro-active role in shaping their future.
Also joining the delegation are two young winners of a national essay competition who will represent the Philippines in the Youth Day of the Summit.
The competition winners were announced during a send-off for the Philippine delegation hosted jointly by Ambassadors Ahmad and Tweddell. They were selected from over 200 applicants from across the country who expressed their thoughts on how to address the issue of sexual violence in areas of conflict and the role of women as agents of change to prevent a culture of impunity.
The winners, Jill Angeli V. Bacasmas and Ma. Reinna Salcedo Bermudez, will join other delegates during the Summit’s Youth Day, which will give young people a voice in tackling the issue.
A Foreign Service training specialist, Bacasmas, said the summit can help her design and conduct training programs on Gender and Development (GAD). “I can be an agent in the dissemination of the plethora of information and skills I will acquire in the Summit,” she enthused.
Meanwhile, Bermudez, a program assistant for an international humanitarian organization, said that the summit will provide her with fresh ideas that “will be crucial in providing a gender lens with psychosocial support in helping people live dignified lives, through creation of community-based project proposals aiming to empower women and young girls.”
The British and Australian embassies are sponsoring the 10-woman delegation who have played key roles in conflict resolution and the competition winners. The delegation will join 1,200 delegates, including government officials, international organization representatives, and experts from across the world.