Following up on the U.S.-led Security Council session on preventing sexual violence in conflict, the United Nations has appointed Margot Wallstrom as the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. This is a newly created position to lead, coordinate, and advocate for efforts to end conflict-related sexual violence against women and children and bring more attention and action on this critical issue. Ms. Wallstrom brings important experience to this job and has been a long time advocate for women’s rights. She said about her appointment, “The challenge is enormous. I intend to bring all of my energy and political experience to bear on it. This is an issue which I regard as one of the most important and yet one of the most overlooked and ignored in modern conflicts. Violence against women is the most common but least punished crime in the world. In recent years, it has been sickening to see sexual violence become a tool of modern warfare. In far too many parts of the world, women are excluded from the decision-making process and from conflict resolution and peacekeeping. This absolutely has to change and I am determined to play my part in making that change happen.”
The Obama Administration is committed to strengthening international action to stop the atrocious targeting of women and girls in conflict. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, an average of 36 women and girls are raped every day. Many of those surviving such vicious attacks - which often involve mutilation - are children, mostly girls. We must do more. This appointment of the new Special Representative is a further step in the right direction, and we commend Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for it. We welcome Ms. Wallstrom to her role and look forward to working with her and her team to protect women and children from sexual violence.
Jennifer Simon is a Senior Advisor to Ambassador Susan Rice and serves as her liaison to the White House Council on Women and Girls