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Duchess Sophie begins visit to Colombia to highlight important issue

The Duchess of Edinburgh is on a solo trip

Sophie Duchess of Edinburgh walks through sculpture garden in Colombia
Danielle Stacey
Danielle StaceyOnline Royal CorrespondentLondon
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The Duchess of Edinburgh began her four-day visit to Colombia on Tuesday to continue her work around an issue she cares deeply about.

Sophie, 58, is visiting the country at the request of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

During her trip, the Duchess will undertake engagements in Bogotá and Cali in support of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS), and to continue her work to champion the survivors of conflict related sexual violence, and the rights of women and girls.

On Tuesday, Sophie met with the country's first Afro-Colombian Vice President and celebrated environmental activist, Francia Márquez.

Dressed in a black polka dot Suzannah London dress, Sophie then paid a moving visit to the Centre for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation (Centro de Memoria, Paz y Reconciliación) where she joined women impacted by the armed conflict, including survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, to view an exhibition of artwork, "Spinning with patience to weave hopes for peace".

 The centre, which was created in 2008, promotes a culture of peace and respect for human rights based on memory and history and was visited by the then-Prince of Wales in 2014. 

 The Duchess also attended a roundtable discussion, hosted by the UK and Canadian Embassies, with women from the Colombian Armed Forces, to hear about their work in support of the WPS, ensuring the meaningful participation of women in peace processes at all levels.

Sophie Duchess of Edinburgh poses for a photo with Vice President of Colombia, Francia Marquez© Tim Rooke/Shutterstock
The Duchess with the Vice President of Colombia, Francia Marquez

 Sophie, formerly the Countess of Wessex has long been a supporter of the WPS and the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI).

On International Women's Day 2019, the Duchess said at a Buckingham Palace reception: "As someone who firmly believes in the equality of men and women, I feel drawn to your cause and to do what I can to help raise further awareness of your work. 

Sophie is in Colombia in support of her work with the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS)© Tim Rooke/Shutterstock
Sophie is in Colombia in support of her work with the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS)

"To help give voice to women and girls who are being denied their fundamental rights as humans and are being subjected to harm and violence as a result of conflict, to promote those who seek to play a part in finding peace, and to support others as they attempt to rebuild their lives.

"Therefore I am publicly committing myself to doing what I can to champion and support WPS and PSVI and make this a central pillar of my work in the coming months and years."

Sophie Duchess of Edinburgh views a glass case of soil from conflicts around the region in Colombia© Tim Rooke/Shutterstock
Sophie views a glass case of soil from conflicts around the region

She has travelled all over the world in support of this work, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Washington DC in the US last year.

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