By Francess Wright
It has been made public that the Her Royal Highness, the Countess of Wessex will visit Sierra Leone from Wednesday 22nd to Thursday 23rd January 2020. During her visit the Countess is expected to undertake a programme of engagements in Freetown, focusing on addressing sexual and gender based violence, supporting survivors, and championing women’s role in peacebuilding.
Almost 20 years after the end of the civil war, Her Royal Highness will hear how Sierra Leone has successfully transitioned to a sustained peace following the conflict. This will include learning about the role of the Special Court and Truth and Reconciliation Commission in bringing justice to survivors of the conflict, including survivors of sexual violence.
During the visit, The Countess will join roundtable discussions with civil society members on current societal issues and the continued violence faced by women and girls in Sierra Leone.
Her Royal Highness will hear how efforts are being made to tackle these issues – particularly reducing stigma – which is helping more women to report incidents of rape.
The Countess will visit a health centre to see how UK aid investments in family planning are helping to empower girls and women to have greater choice and control over their bodies and lives, and to achieve their aspirations.
Her Royal Highness will also visit a secondary school to see first-hand how support from the UK government is helping to keep girls safe and in education.
She will also meet with women from across government, the armed forces, civil society and communities to celebrate the role they are playing at home and abroad in advocating for peace in other regions.
The Countess will hear how the UK has helped Sierra Leone to increase the part that women play in promoting peace and security.