On International Women’s Day West Ham MP Lyn Brown will be remembering the harsh inequalities suffered by women in war-torn and post-conflict communities

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As I write, the Russian parliament has sanctioned the deployment of troops into Ukraine. NATO ambassadors hold emergency talks. The UN is in emergency session. Tensions are high. In Syria, human suffering continues to escalate. We watch helplessly, as horror and despair unfold on our TVs. At home, David Cameron needed to be forced into accepting refugees fleeing the crises.

Since November, the Central African Republic’s sectarian conflicts have intensified.

A million people fled, compounding a desperate humanitarian crisis.

A culture of impunity makes women particularly vulnerable and sexual violence is used as a weapon.

I visited Gulu refugee camp in 2005, and was overcome by the heartbreaking accounts given by women and children. Those testimonies will never leave me.


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In conflict situations, women suffer disproportionately.

Sexual violence too often becomes a tool of war, to humiliate and punish the enemy and “reward” the conqueror. Violence to, and dehumanisation of, women echo long after wars end.

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Worldwide, we see far too many countries in which women struggle to assert their human rights, where their independence and dignity are not respected and opportunities to develop and thrive are denied them.

This week brings International Women’s Day, the UN’s day for women’s rights and world peace.

I will mark it by joining West Ham Labour Women’s Forum at Vicarage Lane Community Centre, for an afternoon with great women who validate equality for women as fundamental to universal progress.

We will eat cake, have fun and promote equality for UK women. Unequal though our society still is, it stands in contrast to harsher inequalities endured by women who live in war-torn and post-conflict communities. Let us especially remember them this week.

Their suffering must be made visible, in the hope of changing their dreadful reality.

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