We now have a queen consort who we know is a feminist. The one who chose to support charities working with women victims of domestic violence. A woman who supported legislation against public sexual harassment when so many others looked the other way.
The last time I met her was a year ago when she gave an impassioned speech, calling on the world to unite against sexual violence against women.
In front of Women of the World Foundation’s Shameless! Festival Camilla said, “We need to involve the men in our lives in this movement. We do not hold all men responsible for sexual violence. But we need everyone on board to deal with it.
She, like me and many women who fight for a safer world for women and girls, knows that abusive men are not born, they are made. I remember her saying those words and feeling not only privileged to know her, but also that she would one day hold a role that meant that at the helm of our country was a woman who stood with us in this important battle.
The United Kingdom and the Commonwealth are about to enter a new era with the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Yesterday, as I watched the funeral with billions of others, I hoped King Charles’ reign would be one where issues that have been neglected for years now have the support of the Royal Family.
I honestly can’t explain the feeling when Charles or Camilla, now the King and Queen consort, ask you about the fight against FGM and when they check The Five Foundation’s name at a reception.
Over the past few years, when I’ve met them, their interest wasn’t something sparked by a script or help, but something that came from the heart. Our new king was the man who gave me my OBE in 2019 and in our few minutes together when he asked ‘do we win the fight? and how was my niece. He did it because he remembered me and the issues that mattered.
As impactful as the Elizabethan era was for women and girls with such a powerful woman as head of state, the new era under Charles can be too.
We now have a man who understands that to be great, he will have to help ensure that we end not only violence against women and girls, but the fear it instills for millions of people.
In other news…
Today, world leaders, including our new Prime Minister Liz Truss, will be in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly. As expected, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be high on the agenda, but there will also be other issues that will be on the table. Many heads of African and South American countries will be meeting G7 leaders for the first time since Covid, and I know for my part that the questions of how to build back differently after Covid will be front and center.
For us to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, things have to change. The UK, the US and others must see developing countries as strategic partners, not just aid recipients.
Covid has shown us not only how close we are as a global community, but also how we need to work together and meet the needs of those in need. There can no longer be a “them and us” approach to the world, as the United Nations has done for years. There needs to be a collaborative process to achieve a world where the SDGs are a reality and not just a list of pious goals in well-written reports.