Countess of Wessex to promote women’s rights during trip to South Sudan

The Countess of Wessex will meet survivors of gender-based violence during a visit to South Sudan.

Sophie’s visit this week – the first royal visit to South Sudan – will promote the rights of women and girls, through education, inclusivity at leadership level and by tackling sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

Following the formation of a transitional government in February, the countess will meet survivors of gender-based violence to learn about the impact of the recent conflict and hear about the ongoing challenges faced by displaced women and girls.

Royal visit to Sierra Leone – Day Two
The Countess of Wessex met Amira Koroma, a sexual violence survivor and campaigner, during a visit to Sierra Leone in January (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The countess will also join a conversation with men who are engaged in a programme to bring greater gender equality into their homes and communities.

In Juba, the capital, Sophie will meet female political leaders and peacebuilders to discuss the importance of including more women in the implementation of the South Sudan peace process and in wider politics and decision-making.

The countess will also visit a local school to learn about the effect of the ongoing humanitarian crisis on young people and to see UK support for girls’ education and efforts to champion girls staying in education to help build a more positive future for South Sudan.

The visit comes at a time when the the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website still advises against all travel to South Sudan, warning that levels of intercommunal violence remain high across the country.

The UK welcomed the formation of an inclusive transitional government (IGAD) on February 22 and said it was committed to working with the IGAD and other regional and international partners “to support the people of South Sudan in their pursuit of peace and stability”.

The countess’s trip takes place at the request of the FCO during International Women’s Week.

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