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Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh Visits Colombia to Continue Mission for Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

The Duchess of Edinburgh is on a visit to Colombia and highlighting the plight of women and girls caught up in wars

<p>Tim Rooke/Shutterstock</p> Sophie Duchess of Edinburgh, at the Center for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation in Bogata, Colombia, views soil from conflicts around the region

Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Sophie Duchess of Edinburgh, at the Center for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation in Bogata, Colombia, views soil from conflicts around the region

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh is taking her mission to help women who have been victims of gender-based violence during conflict to Colombia.

The royal mom-of-two is on a three-day tour to the Central American country and spent much of Wednesday highlighting the plight of women who have been victims of abuse during wars and conflict. She has also met with survivors of the decades-long conflict which ended in 2016 with a peace agreement.

Sophie, 59, held a meeting with peacebuilders and survivors of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) to hear their testimonies, experiences and roles in peace processes. It comes ahead of the country chairing the International Alliance on PSVI in 2024. The 52-year conflict in Colombia, which ended after four years of talks, has had a disproportionate effect on women and girls, with many of them survivors of CRSV.

It follows Sophie's trip to Ethiopia in October, where she also highlighted the plight of women caught up in conflict.

<p>Tim Rooke/Shutterstock</p> Sophie Duchess of Edinburgh joined by women impacted by the armed conflict, including survivors of conflict related sexual violence in Bogata, Colombia

Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Sophie Duchess of Edinburgh joined by women impacted by the armed conflict, including survivors of conflict related sexual violence in Bogata, Colombia

The Duchess of Edinburgh began the day hearing about what the palace calls the "progress and challenges" of the peace agreement that ended the conflict between Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) combatants and the government.

Visiting the Trópicos Fruits of Hope Coffee Farm (Trópicos Frutos de Esperanza), Sophie was shown how the farm helps more than 130 ex-combatants re-enter the mainstream economy. She was also told about the role of women as builders of peace.

She saw the farm’s seed and also visited the Centre for Research on Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) Seed Bank. She is the Honorary President of LEAF, which supports sustainable food production.

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<p>Tim Rooke/Shutterstock</p> Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh comforts a woman in Bogata, Colombia

Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh comforts a woman in Bogata, Colombia

Sophie was also shown how the center works to promote food security through climate adaptation and champions the crucial role women play in science. She also visited Humboldt Institute's molecular analysis laboratory, to see how U.K. DNA sequencing technology is being used to help track products shipped in the illegal wildlife trade.

On her first day, in the capital of Bogotá, Sophie met the Vice President of Colombia, Francia Márquez, who is the first Afro-Colombian Vice President, as well as Minister of Equality and Equity and a celebrated environmental activist.

She then headed to the Center for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation (Centro de Memoria, Paz y Reconciliación), where she joined some women who had been caught up in the armed conflict with some being survivors of CRSV. It was set up in 2008 and was visited by her brother-in-law King Charles, when he was Prince of Wales, in 2014. There, she saw an exhibition of artwork, “Spinning with patience to weave hopes for peace.”

<p>Tim Rooke/Shutterstock</p> Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh taking part in the discussion about the impacts of the conflict, on Tuesday

Tim Rooke/Shutterstock

Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh taking part in the discussion about the impacts of the conflict, on Tuesday

Related: Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh Sparkles in Aquamarine Tiara at Palace Banquet

Sophie also took part in a discussion hosted by the U.K. and Canadian Embassies with women from the Colombian Armed Forces, who play an integral part in the ongoing peace process too.

In Cali, she was shown the culture and traditions, meeting women’s organizations and entrepreneurs of the local Pacific region, and how it has been impacted by the armed conflict. She also visited La Licorera, the city’s center for dance and choreography. There, she attended a workshop with those involved in the British Council’s new Creative Bootcamp: Dance and Peace program, which provides opportunities for young people in the Pacific region by supporting the entrepreneurship initiatives of dance groups. Sophie, who is a patron of the Central School of Ballet, met local dancers from Incolballet, the Colombian Ballet Institute, and heard about the positive role the arts have to play in healing communities and building peace.

In Ethiopia last month, Sophie worked alongside a team from UNICEF to see the far-reaching impact of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) and gender-based violence. "The Duchess has championed the Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI), and survivors of CRSV, for a number of years, and has travelled widely to bear witness to their testimonies," Buckingham Palace said in a press release.

The Duchess of Edinburgh's visit to Colombia comes one year after the Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict International Conference in London.

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Read the original article on People.