The youth need to "have their eyes wide open about the world" in order "to be a part of the change," the women's rights activist told PEOPLE
The former Meta executive and women's rights activist, who spoke at the United Nations on Monday at the “Special Session on Sexual Violence Against Israelis,” told PEOPLE it’s crucial for the youth to have their eyes open to these realities.
“Our children who are older — I think they need to have their eyes wide open about the world they live in,” she shared, “because they’re going to have to be a part of the change that we need.”
“For those of us that have been in the women’s movements for decades, we wanted — and we want — to leave our daughters a world where women are believed,” she added, standing next to her three daughters.
“It’s Bring Your Daughter to Work Day,” she joked.
Sandberg shared her thoughts after a panel where Israeli authorities detailed accounts of the sexual violence they saw following the Oct. 7 terror attack in southern Israel.
The speakers, one of whom was a first responder, discussed finding victims who were mutilated, raped and assaulted with weapons; many were attacked in their genitalia with nails and guns.
Shari Mendes, who worked on the ground in the aftermath of the attacks, shared that some women's bodies had “maggots” and there was “systematic genital mutilation” of the women.
“If you listen to the testimony today, it’s irrefutable,” Sandberg told PEOPLE following the panel. “There’s no way to not see that what happened here was systematic gender-based violence — from rape to genital mutilation to things that are [unspeakable].”
“Today marks the end of the silence,” she added.
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Sandberg — speaking alongside New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Israeli Miss World Linor Abargil and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — shared the importance of building on the work done by generations of women to combat wartime sexual violence.
“Throughout the history of man, women’s bodies were just considered part of the spoils of war,” she said in her speech, echoing a recent op-ed she wrote about the issue. “The ground we have gained in protecting women was hard fought. It needs to be built upon, not lost."
She called on the U.N. to condemn the Oct. 7 sexual violence committed by Hamas, and to investigate the accusations to hold them "accountable."
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