Across the globe, millions of women and girls are subject to violence simply because of their gender. We’ve seen it recently in the headlines—from gang rapes in India to the retaliation against girls in Afghanistan for merely pursuing their education. And sadly, only a fraction of this violence is reported. It’s estimated that a staggering one in every three women globally will be beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation that knows no cultural, national, or ethnic boundaries. It destabilizes families and communities, thwarts economic progress, and undermines women’s ability to create better lives for themselves and their families. Something can and must be done.
At Futures Without Violence, our mission is to prevent violence against women and children worldwide. Part of achieving that goal is ensuring that proper legislation is put in place. The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA), which was re-introduced in the House late last year with bipartisan support, would do just that.
I-VAWA would, for the first time, place gender-based violence prevention at the center of U.S. foreign policy. Among many things, it would reinforce local organizations already working to prevent and respond to such violence, streamline U.S. government policy and programming across agencies, and engage men and boys as allies in preventing violence and facilitating cultural norm change. At the core of this bill is the belief that everyone has a role to play in preventing violence—across gender, national, and political beliefs.
A part of the Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Girls Globally, we’ve worked with our partners to shape the language of this critical bill—talking to advocates on the ground, collaborating with organizations implementing innovative violence-prevention programs, and consulting with Vice President (and then Senator) Joe Biden, who introduced the initial piece of legislation in 2007.
When women and girls thrive, societies are more likely to prosper economically, experience reduced rates of HIV and AIDS, see a decrease in child and maternal mortality, and have more participatory and democratic governments.
Join us in making I-VAWA a reality in 2014. During this pivotal time, we must encourage Members of Congress to help preserve this fundamental human right, and support the passage of the International Violence Against Women Act. Violence against women and girls is an issue that transcends political beliefs.
Take action by emailing your Member of Congress, and encourage others to do the same. Together we can make a difference in the lives of women and girls across the globe.
Celia Richa is a Senior International Policy Advocate at Futures Without Violence, a national nonprofit organization aimed at preventing violence against women and children worldwide. Learn more about the International Violence Against Women Act.
This piece was cross-posted here with permission from YWCA USA