16 Days of Activism | Call to Action: The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA)

By Christine Popp, Human Rights Intern

Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women NGO Mentoring Program  

Every day, women and girls around the world are subject to physical and sexual violence. Gender-based violence (GBV) knows no physical or cultural boundaries, occurring in times of war and peace and in every single country around the world. Shockingly, the UN Development Fund for Women notes that rates are as high as 70% in some countries.

But this is not a problem without a solution.

The U.S. government has a critical role to play in preventing and ending GBV worldwide. And Members of Congress have a unique opportunity in this important effort.

Passing the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) is one of the best ways the U.S. can help and represents a crucial step in sticking up for and empowering women and girls worldwide. On November 21, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL) re-introduced the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA - HR 3571) in the House, with bipartisan support from Reps. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Richard Hanna (R-NY), and Chris Gibson (R-NY).

I-VAWA will direct the U.S. government to implement its strategy to reduce GBV in at least five countries where it is most severe. The act permanently authorizes the Office of Global Women’s Issues in the State Department as well as the position of the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues. I-VAWA will work specifically in four areas to address violence against women and girls.

I-VAWA will increase legal and judicial protection for women and girls, promoting political, legal, and institutional reforms that recognize violence against women and girls as a crime and supporting women victims throughout the legal process.

I-VAWA will support work like Prudence Galega’s efforts to improve the criminal justice response to human trafficking.

I-VAWA will increase health sector capacity, taking a holistic “systems” approach that emphasizes enhancing the capacity of the health sector to assess the impact of violence on a woman and girl’s health and help her protect herself from violence.

I-VAWA will support comprehensive health services like those provided by the Kant brothers’ to victims of sexual abuse and trafficking.

I-VAWA will change social norms to end violence against women and girls by supporting public awareness programs to change attitudes that condone and encourage violence against women and girls, highlighting community-based solutions and engaging men and boys.

I-VAWA will support social change work like Panmela Castro’s graffiti and public arts campaigns on GBV.

I-VAWA will increase women’s economic opportunity and education, which will reduce their vulnerability to violence by allowing them to support themselves and their children.

I-VAWA will support education initiatives like Kakenya Ntaiya’s school for girls.

Vital Voices supports I-VAWA, because I-VAWA will support the work of our women worldwide.

Passing I-VAWA can help women like Prudence, the Kant Brothers, Panmela, and Kakenya to address the horrifying abuses women face all over the world. Lawmakers should move quickly to pass I-VAWA and signal the United States’ commitment to stopping violence against women and girls worldwide.

Your voice matters. Let your Member of Congress know that ending violence against women and girls is important to you. Send a message urging him or her to pass the International Violence Against Women Act. To find out who your member of Congress is, click here.

Take action now and help support passage of the International Violence Against Women Act.

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