This week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), taking an important step towards improving women’s lives around the world. I commend the Committee for taking action to reduce the global epidemic of domestic violence, rape, trafficking, and other crimes committed daily against women and girls.
Across the U.S. government, we are already working towards these goals. Our Global Development Policy speaks to the importance of investing in the health, education and rights of women. Through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), we are connecting efforts to reduce gender-based violence with HIV/AIDS prevention. Secretary Clinton has pledged $17 million to address rape in the Congo, and, on the ground, USAID is training health care providers to respond to the needs of victims. As a follow-up to its Safe Schools program, USAID is working on changing attitudes and behaviors about gender-based violence among parents, teachers and students, enabling girls to remain in schools. Through the Global Health Initiative (GHI), we are implementing a women and girls-centered approach to help partner countries improve health outcomes with a particular focus on maternal health.
President Obama has made the treatment of women an essential part of our global vision for democracy and human rights. Last year, the U.S. led efforts to pass UN Security Council Resolution 1888, establishing a UN Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict and enhancing the ability of peacekeeping missions to protect women and children from sexual violence during armed conflict. Yesterday, the UNSC passed a follow-on UNSC Resolution 1960 deepening these measures and improving how the UN system addresses sexual violence in conflict. As a part of our global leadership on this issue, our government is also undertaking a review of its own efforts to implement UNSC Resolution 1325, which promotes the participation of women in all aspects of peace and security.
In November, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Vice President Biden said: “For every woman who has been beaten in her own home, for the millions of women who have been raped as a weapon of war, for every girl who has been attacked on her way to school, for all of the children - girls and boys - who have witnessed this brutality, we must do better.” We join the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the commitment to do better.
Lynn Rosenthal is the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women