As a member of the Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Girls Globally, FUTURES welcome the introduction of the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA). This hallmark bill addresses the violence that women and girls face daily – sometimes even hourly – around the world and makes ending it a central U.S. foreign policy priority.
The statistics are staggering: an estimated 1 in 3 women will face physical, mental, or sexual abuse in their lifetimes. Nearly 39,000 girls under the age 18 are married each day. Female genital cutting has impacted more than 200 million women and girls alive today. Violent extremism is on the rise and it places the subordination of women at the center of the ideology and war tactics, where captured women and girls become tools for recruitment and commodities or a source of income for war chests.
Each of these practices and other forms of violence against women has an immeasurable impact on women and girls, their families, and their communities. IVAWA makes ending violence against women and girls a top diplomatic, development, and foreign assistance priority by ensuring the U.S. government has a strategy to efficiently and effectively coordinate existing cross-governmental efforts to prevent and respond to gender-based violence globally. The bill empowers the United States to work with other countries toward preventing violence against women and girls and responding to the effects of these practices on societies and economies. It holds governments accountable for acting to end rampant violence while empowering women and girls to lift their voices against it.
IVAWA recognizes that violence against women and girls is embedded in cultural and societal norms of unequal status and power, requiring a long-term approach that fosters personal, community, and societal changes. The solutions to preventing and responding to such violence require all of us – advocates, elected officials, and international leaders – to stand in solidarity across the globe to end gender inequality and address the injustice of violence.
We applaud the introduction of this urgent bill since, now more than ever, women and girls deserve a chance to live a life free from violence. We urge Congress to swiftly consider and pass the International Violence Against Women Act to empower women and girls, along with their communities and nations, to end the violence.