SEMA was created in June 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland, at the first global retreat of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. In this meeting, representatives from 14 countries agreed on the need for a global network of survivors to facilitate knowledge exchange, promote solidarity and advocate for real change and the promotion of survivors’ rights.
With the generous support of the Dutch Postcode Lottery, this was followed by global retreats in 2018 (the Netherlands) and 2019 (Luxembourg). Due to the global Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent travel restrictions, SEMA members did not meet in person for three years although they had regular contact on digital platforms and webinars. In 2022, the Mukwege Foundation organised the 4th global retreat in which SEMA members celebrated the 5th year anniversary of SEMA.