The Countess of Wessex has urged Commonwealth leaders to listen to women and promote a “feminist peace”, telling them she is “honour bound” to report their progress back to the Queen.
The Countess, who delivered a speech to the 12th Commonwealth Women's Affairs Ministers Meeting in Kenya, said the Queen was “delighted” that the meeting to further women’s rights was being held and would await news of its “full and productive outcomes”.
She called on leaders to “live up to and embody the original values that the Commonwealth was founded on" in bringing about gender equality, saying there was still a “long way to go” before female voices are heard and acted upon.
Arguing that an “increased focus” on ending gender discrimination was essential, she urged “greater support” for victims of conflict-related sexual violence and the “children born of rape”.
The Countess said: “We must not limit our ambitions - we also want to promote women as negotiators, as ceasefire and peace agreement monitors, as front-line peacekeepers and as political leaders.
“Women throughout the Commonwealth, particularly at the grassroots level, have experiences to share that we can all learn from; their expertise should be recognised and promoted."
She added that doing so would help parts of the Commonwealth move “from conflict and violence to sustainable and feminist peace”.
While the Countess, Duchess of Cornwall and Duchess of Sussex have recently spoken of gender inequality in public, the speech is a rare example of a member of the Royal Family using the word “feminist” in a major public address.
The women and girls from @WeAreRefuSHE showcased their exquisite handmade products, from scarves to linen lunch bags, during a fashion show and performance.— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) September 19, 2019
An extra special thank you to The Countess's dance partner, 15 year old Gizele from the Democratic Republic of the Congo! pic.twitter.com/8o1weCr8SI
Emphasising that the Queen, as head of Commonwealth, would be paying attention to the outcome of the meetings, the Countess told an audience: “Today I bring you special greetings from Her Majesty The Queen, who is delighted this meeting is convening once again and, as you would expect, I am honour bound to return with a good account of the full and productive outcomes of this conference, particularly as an important precursor to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda next year.”