Happy International Women's Day!
One of the many positive things to come from this year's worldwide celebration of women is the news that actor Sophie Turner is a new UK patron for charity Women for Women International, alongside Helen Mirren. Today, in honour of IWD, she is sharing a film of her recent trip to Rwanda to see the work the charity has been doing with Rwandan women – still wounded more than 20 years after what is remembered as one of the most horrific genocides in history.
Back in 1994, the Hutu government of Rwanda slaughtered an estimated one million Tutsis. The killings took place over 100 days, decimating some 70% of Rwanda's Tutsi community – that's 20% of the country's entire population. It's also estimated that 500,000 women were raped during this period.
When Sophie Turner's character Sansa Stark was raped in Game Of Thrones, there was a public uproar. Sophie's decision to become a patron for Women for Women International, a charity that helps women survivors of war, links back to that furore. "The rape scene caused quite a bit of controversy and I wanted to actually get involved with helping women out [who had been through that]" she says in the video of her trip.
Sophie went to see the work Women for Women International are doing in Rwanda. They've reached 75,000 women so far by providing a year-long training programme, and have managed to open the first Women's Opportunity Centre in Rwanda where women can be trained and mentored in entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as being provided with access to financial services and markets and cooperative and agri-business support.
Sophie, for her part, is keen to drive home how being someone's sponsor can really change a woman's life. She's also asking people in the UK to join in the #SheInspiresMe campaign. Find out how here.