Earlier this month, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan traveled to the University of New Hampshire to announce new guidance on Title IX to address sexual assault on college campuses. While announcing this extraordinary step forward, the Vice President reiterated what he has said many times, that everyone – men, women, boys and girls – all must play a part to end violence against women. Speaking directly to male students on campus, he said: “You guys have an absolute obligation as men to speak up… If you see a man in any way threatening a woman on this campus, if a friend even hints at potential abuse, you have an obligation to speak up. Peer to peer, friend to friend – we know what works best, and that's how real change happens.”
This week, I am pleased to report that the Department of Justice (DOJ) took an unprecedented step in encouraging men and boys to become partners in ending violence against women. Through its Office on Violence Against Women, DOJ announced $6.9 million in awards to 23 projects aimed to empower men to speak out about violence against women. The initiative, called the Engaging Men Grant Program, underscores the fact that most men are not violent or abusive towards the women in their lives and encourages these men to work as allies with women and girls to prevent violence.
With the goal of reaching men of various ages and backgrounds, the Engaging Men Grant Program will fund a wide range of organizations from non-profit service providers and coalitions, to a large university and tribal coalitions, ranging across states from Maine to Washington. As Judge Susan Carbon, Director of the Office on Violence Against Women, has said “All men play a critical role in preventing crimes against women and are important partners in our effort to address the full spectrum of these crimes. These grants and the work of the grantees will provide the framework for extending and developing these partnerships across the country.”
Just one more piece of the government-wide response to violence against women, these new grant programs will help make this “real change” a reality as they engage men and boys to stand up and stop the violence.
For more information, check out www.ovw.usdoj.gov.
Lynn Rosenthal is the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women