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

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21 Nov 2013

21 DECEMBER 2015 UPDATE: Equality Now has been working with our partners in the Gender-Based Violence Coalition to make I-VAWA law. While the push for bi-partisan sponsors of a stand-alone bill continues, we are also exploring other avenues to secure its passage. For example, we are supporting an amendment introduced by Senator Boxer to legislation reauthorizing US Department of State funding. The bill is currently in committee, and we will update you in 2016 when the campaign resumes during the next Congressional session.

11 MARCH 2015 UPDATE: Great news! U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky re-introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) in the House (H.R. 1340) on 8 March and Senator Barbara Boxer re-introduced it into the Senate (S. 713) on 11 March. Living free from violence is a human right. 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 around the world.

Please join Equality Now and the Coalition to End Violence Against Women and Girls Globally by calling on your Representatives and Senators to stand up for women and girls and help pass this crucial legislation today!


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

Women and girls around the world need your support. Gender-based violence is a global problem and 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.
  • This year alone, 13.5 million children, most of them girls, will be married before they turn 18 and about 4.4 million of them will be married before they turn 15:  nearly 37,000 child marriages each day.
  • 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, child marriage and other harmful practices.
  • In times of conflict, mass rape is often used as a weapon of war.

I-VAWA is legislation that will reinforce on-the-ground efforts around the world to reduce violence against women and girls. The  legislation focuses on establishing and supporting laws and legal structures that help prevent and appropriately respond to all forms of violence; 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.

What You Can Do: 

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


Dear Senator/Representative [insert name]

I urge you to co-sponsor the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) in 2015.

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. Everyday girls are subjected to female genital mutilation and child marriage.

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,