UN Special Envoy on Sexual Violence to visit UW–Madison campus

Zainab Hawa Bangura, the United Nations Special Envoy on Sexual Violence in Conflict, will visit the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus on November 6 and 7, with an itinerary that includes two public talks and informal meetings with students.

Appointed to her current post in June 2012, Bangura has actively engaged world leaders, rebels, militants, victims and communities in diverse regions of the world to bring attention to the issues surrounding sexual violence in conflict. As a result of her efforts, the UN Security Council voted unanimously on June 24, 2013, to adopt a resolution condemning sexual violence in conflict and impunity for such crimes.

Zainab Hawa Bangura
Zainab Hawa Bangura

She was invited to campus by Project 1808, a UW–Madison student organization founded to improve the quality of education and sustainable life in Sierra Leone, by working with the country’s youth.

Prior to her UN appointment, Bangura served as Sierra Leone’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Minister of Health and Sanitation. She has been instrumental in developing national programs on affordable health, advocating for the elimination of genital mutilation, managing the country’s Peace Building Commission and contributing to the multilateral and bilateral relations with the international community.

During her visit to UW–Madison, faculty, students and staff, along with the general public, will have opportunities to hear her and engage in discussions about issues surrounding sexual violence, foreign policies, gender and women’s issues, health, education, democracy and human rights, Africa and development challenges.

Public events during her visit are:

  • “Sexual Violence in Areas of Armed Conflict,” Wednesday, November 6, at 7 p.m., Great Hall, Memorial Union: In this public lecture, Bangura will talk about the issue, its scope, and its impact on the economic and social development of communities and nations around the world. She will discuss what engaged members of the international community can do to eradicate rape as a weapon of war. A student member of First Wave will give a short performance prior to the lecture.
  • Breakfast and Conversation with students, Thursday, November 7, from 9 to 10:30 a.m., Gordon Dining and Event Center, 770 W. Dayton St.: After a brief introduction, Bangura will take questions from students. Project1808 Inc., PAVE, and other student organizations will share information about how to get involved on the topic of sexual violence and take action on campus. A free continental breakfast will be available.
  • “Crafting an International Legal Framework to Combat Sexual Violence in Conflict,” Thursday, November 7, at noon, Lubar Commons (Room 7200), UW–Madison Law School: Bangura will talk about the challenges and successes of her office, the UN’s work in helping countries create gender-neutral laws, train police officers, prosecutors and judges, and provide redress and reparation for victims.

Bangura’s visit is sponsored, in addition to Project 1808, by the UW–Madison Global Health Institute, ISS-Millennium Development Goals Awareness Project (MDGAP), Human Rights Program, Division of International Studies, and the Distinguished Lecture Series-Wisconsin Union Directorate.

Other co-sponsors are: UW–Madison African Studies Program; Associated Students of Madison, CALS International Programs; Department of Gender and Women’s StudiesGlobal Studies and International Studies Major; International Learning Community; Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies; School of Social Work; Undergraduate Certificate in Global Health; and the United Nations Association of Dane County.

Funding for this event had been provided courtesy of the Kemper K. Knapp Bequest Fund.

Questions about the visit may be directed to  Linda Vakunta, lvakunta@wisc.edu, (608) 692-5405; or Marilee Sushoreba, sushoreba@studentlife.wisc.edu, (608) 262-9716.

-by Kerry G. Hill