ACTION NEEDED: Contact your Senate and House members to urge them to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) (S. 2982/H.R. 4594). The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to consider this bipartisan bill, but very few days remain in the lame duck session. Adoption in this Congress of IVAWA would be an important action coming during the current international campaign: 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. This legislation will greatly enhance U.S. prevention of and response to gender-based violence in the international community.
BACKGROUND: Violence against women and girls continues to affect the lives of billions each year. Worldwide, one out of three women will be raped, beaten, or abused in her lifetime. Seventy percent of women who fall victim to murder are killed by their male partners. In disaster areas and armed conflicts, the occurrence of violence against women and girls increases to even more severe levels. Sexual atrocities are widespread in conflict areas where rape is used as a weapon of war. Recently, thousands of women have been gang raped in the Darfur region of Sudan in the ongoing conflict between the Sudanese military and police and the Janjaweed, northern Sudan Arab tribes. Efforts to protect these women have been mostly futile.
Five Year Plan - IVAWA will make preventing and responding to violence against women a greater focus of U.S. foreign policy and international development. This legislation will establish the Office for Global Women's Issues and the Office for Women's Global Development to create new programs and strengthen existing ones.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will be responsible for creating a five-year strategy for international prevention and response to gendered violence in areas with high levels of such violence. U.S. and international military and peacekeeping units will receive training in prevention and response.
IVAWA will also make available increased levels of financial, material and human resources for U.N. efforts fighting violence against women and girls, particularly in situations of armed conflict and refugee camps.
This legislation, sponsored in the Senate by Foreign Relations Committee Chair Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and 34 co-sponsors, and in the House by Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.) and 132 co-sponsors, of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, is still under committee consideration.
Precious little time remains in the 111th Congress to consider IVAWA, so your messages urging passage of this important bill are greatly needed.
16 Days of Activism - Congressional passage of IVAWA would be especially auspicious during the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. Beginning on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (Nov. 25) and running through Dec. 10, this year's theme focuses on the intersection of militarism and violence against women.
Women's rights organizations, victim advocacy groups, global health organizations and U.S. government agencies (including USAID) participate in "16 Days" activities to promote heightened awareness, effect change in societal structures that permit gender-based violence to persist, and advocate for expanded programs to assist survivors of violence.
TAKE ACTION: NOW calls on you to show solidarity with our sisters in the international community. Call or send an email message to your Congress members to urge them to pass IVAWA during this lame duck session.