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Volume 561: debated on Tuesday 23 April 2013

15. What discussions he has had on ensuring the representation of women at the upcoming conference on Somalia and ensuring that there is discussion of women’s rights and gender-responsive peace-building at that conference. (152360)

We have encouraged the Somali Government to bring a representative delegation. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development and I will hold an event early next week to hear from prominent Somali women about empowerment, violence against women and forced marriage. Preventing sexual violence in conflict is also a theme of the Somali conference.

Members of the Somali community in my constituency feel it is hugely important that work is done to reach out to, identify and encourage key women to participate in the conference. Will the Minister reassure them that that will be the case?

In short, I can, not only at the conference but also prior to it. I and officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are reaching out to and meeting not just male, but female representatives of the diaspora throughout the United Kingdom. As I mentioned, a meeting will be focused on Somali women and the preventing sexual violence initiative is a key part of the Somali conference. I reassure the hon. Lady that the key is an end to conflict and insecurity in Somalia, and we sought to insert language into UN Security Council resolution 2093 about the importance of the role of women in all efforts for peace and security going forward.