August 10, 2012
Women Thrive Worldwide welcomes the release today of the ‘United States Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally’. The first government-wide effort of its kind, the strategy puts the weight of U.S. foreign policy and international assistance behind ending the global epidemic of gender-based violence, which is estimated to affect one in three women and girls worldwide. Such a pro-active approach has been a focus of Women Thrive’s advocacy for over seven years.
Ritu Sharma, Co-Founder and President of Women Thrive Worldwide, spoke at a White House event held today to release the new strategy. She was joined by Valerie Jarett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls; Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues; Donald Steinberg, Deputy Administrator, USAID; and Mary Ellsberg, Director, George Washington University's Global Women's Institute. Lynn Rosenthal, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, moderated the event.
At the event, Women Thrive also presented the Obama Administration with an oversized thank-you card, signed by over 600 men and women from all over the world, commending them for making ending violence against women a priority in U.S. foreign policy.
“Violence against women is unfair, unjust and perhaps the greatest everyday violation of human rights on the planet,” said Ritu Sharma. “What this policy does is make fighting this problem in all of its dimensions a part of all of our nation’s foreign policy efforts. Women who are looking for a chance to live a life free of violence deserve nothing less.”
The strategy encompasses the legal, security, health, education, economic, social services, humanitarian and development sectors. It integrates violence prevention and response efforts into programs the U.S. is already running globally, and increases and expands programs that are proven to be successful. Women Thrive especially commends the emphasis in the strategy’s guiding principles on locally-based organizations and civil society, including women, girls, men, boys and faith leaders, who are engaged in preventing and responding to violence in their own communities.
This strategy builds on USAID’s recently-released policy on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, which has articulated decreasing gender-based violence as a core goal. It also mirrors efforts in Congress in the form of the International Violence Against Women Act (HR5905), which is now before the House of Representatives. It reflects strong U.S. public support for the issue: in a 2009 poll by Lake Research Partners, a majority of voters (61 percent) across partisan and demographic lines said addressing global violence against women should be one of the top priorities for the U.S. government.
Women Thrive has co-led a coalition of more than 200 organizations since 2005 to push for a comprehensive approach to address global violence against women and girls as a core U.S. foreign policy goal. Today’s new policy release is a welcome, bold step in the right direction. Our coalition will work to ensure that it is implemented and translates into real change in the lives of women and girls around the world.