United States: Pass the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA)

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2013 Nov 21

U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky has just re-introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) in the House and Senate action is anticipated in the coming weeks. I-VAWA is legislation that will reinforce on-the-ground efforts around the world to reduce violence against women and girls.

TAKE ACTION NOW! << Please take a moment to ask your Members of Congress to support this important bill.

Equality Now and the Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Girls Globally support I-VAWA because the numbers are staggering:

  • Upwards of 70 percent of women in some countries will experience violence in their lifetimes.
  • Each year, around 3 million girls and women – or some 8,000 girls each day – face the risk of female genital mutilation. An estimated 130 – 140 million girls have already been subjected to the practice.
  • In some countries, as many as 30 percent of women report that their first sexual experience was coerced or forced. The younger a woman was at the time of sexual initiation, the higher the chance that it was violent.
  • One billion women and girls are affected by violence, including rape, domestic violence, acid burning, dowry-deaths, “honor” killings, human trafficking, female genital mutilation and other harmful practices.
  • In times of conflict, mass rape is often used as a weapon of war.

Passing the I-VAWA would integrate violence prevention and response into US foreign policy and support proven programs that can reduce violence against women and girls. The I-VAWA directs the U.S. government to:

  • Permanently authorize the Office of Global Women’s Issues in the State Department as well as the position of Ambassador-at-Large for Women’s Issues.
  • Implement the first ever U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence in at least 5 countries where it is severe.
  • Enhance data collection and transparency of results that ensure accountability and the continued use of best practices.
  • Support health programs and survivor services and encourage legal and judicial protections.
  • Promote access to economic opportunity projects and education.
  • Address violence against women and girls in humanitarian situations.
  • Support and build-capacity for local women’s organizations already working to stop violence against women and girls.

The I-VAWA focuses on establishing and supporting laws and legal structures that help prevent and appropriately respond to all forms of violence against women and girls; preventing violence by changing community norms and attitudes; and reducing women and girls’ vulnerability to violence by improving their economic and educational opportunities in environments that are free from sexual coercion and assault.

The I-VAWA would provide essential support for proven strategies to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls. And it would bolster the efforts of women and men around the world who are working to eliminate gender-based violence in their communities.

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TAKE ACTION NOW! << Please take a moment to ask your Members of Congress to support this important bill.

Gender-based violence is a global problem, but you can play a role in making the world a safer place for women and girls. Take Action now and help support the I-VAWA. Here you will also find an activist toolkit with further resources for taking action on the I-VAWA.


Dear Senator/Representative [insert name]

I am writing to urge you to co-sponsor the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) in 2013.

Gender-based violence is widely prevalent around the globe, with up to 70 percent of women and girls facing violence in some countries. Every day, women and girls around the world are forced to trade sex for food or school fees. Every day, women and girls are beaten and abused.

All too often these violent crimes are not prosecuted and, as a result, they are socially accepted and tolerated. Violence against women and girls is a global health crisis and a human rights violation that contributes to instability and insecurity throughout our world.

The American public is behind ending violence against women and girls. A 2009 poll found that 61 percent of voters across demographic and political lines think violence against women and girls should be one of the top international priorities for the U.S. government, and 82 percent supported the I-VAWA.

I am asking you, Senator/Representative [name] to stand up for women and girls and help pass the International Violence Against Women Act.

This bill supports innovative, cost-effective programs that have been shown to decrease acts of violence. Many of these programs help women and girls do things we so often take for granted:  go to school, earn an income to sustain families, collect food or water without fear of rape or harassment, and bring perpetrators of abuse to justice. The I-VAWA will also streamline and improve existing U.S. programs to end violence against women – increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of our international assistance.

The I-VAWA provides the United States with a critical opportunity to make a real difference. The world’s women and girls need this legislation.

Protecting and promoting the rights of women and girls is key to global development and effective foreign policy. Please help change the lives of millions of women and girls by co-sponsoring the I-VAWA.

Yours sincerely,