Australia and the United Kingdom are working together to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict and other situations of armed violence.

The Australian Dialogue on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, held today at Parliament House in Canberra, unites experts across government, non-government organisations and academia to discuss ways to address and respond to sexual violence.

At today’s dialogue I announce that $3.3 million of Australia’s $17.7 million program to help end violence against women in Afghanistan will support the Afghan Women’s Network and its member organisations.

Australia will also provide $1 million in partnership with UN Women in Timor Leste, Liberia and Uganda to support women’s engagement in decision-making on peace-building and gender responsive security sector reform.

An additional $1.65 million will be provided in assistance to humanitarian and emergency initiatives through ProCap and Gencap, the Women’s Refugee Commission as well as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The outcomes of the Dialogue will feed into the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict to be held next week in London. This will be the largest ever international gathering to discuss the issue and will be co-chaired by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, Natasha Stott Despoja, will represent Australia.

We are proud to be champions of the UK’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative. Sexual violence in conflict is one of the most destructive weapons of war, its impact can be as great as any bomb or bullet.

The recent kidnapping of more than 200 girls in Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram is a stark reminder of the threat faced by women and girls in conflict affected areas and underlines the importance of global commitment to this issue.

“Sexual violence in conflict is a major global problem,” said His Excellency Paul Madden, British High Commissioner to Australia. “It happens wherever we find conflict, and affects millions of women and children as well as men.”

“We want it to achieve a dramatic effect on the way people around the world think about this, so that we create a sense of irreversible movement towards ending the use of rape and sexual violence in conflict.”

Today’s dialogue will help Australia to set directions for addressing sexual violence in conflict, focusing on strengthening accountability and access to justice, and responding to sexual violence and services for survivors.

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