By Ritu Sharma - 05/12/10 03:51 PM EDT
day, women and girls are beaten, raped and killed worldwide just
because of their gender. It’s estimated one of every three women will
be physically, sexually or otherwise abused during her lifetime, with
rates reaching 70 percent in some countries.
The good news is violence against women is preventable, and there are thousands of organizations around the world working to end violence in their own communities. Congress is now poised to help their efforts through the bipartisan International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) sponsored by Reps. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
integrates helping survivors and preventing violence into U.S.
assistance programs that provide healthcare, education and economic
opportunity while promoting legal reform and social change in
I-VAWA also makes ending violence against women a diplomatic priority for the first time in U.S. history, and urges the U.S. government to respond to critical outbreaks of gender-based violence in armed conflict within six months.
It has strong public support: A recent poll by Women Thrive and the Family Violence Prevention Fund found more than 60 percent of Americans across demographic and partisan lines think ending gender-based violence should be a top foreign policy priority, and more than 80 percent support I-VAWA.
I-VAWA would help remove a major barrier preventing women and girls
from getting an education, working and pulling themselves and their
families out of poverty. It would also ensure the money the U.S. spends
on national security, development and peacebuilding in places like
Afghanistan would be that much more effective. Twenty-nine Senators and
nearly 100 Representatives have co-sponsored the bill. It’s time for
Congress to step up and pass I-VAWA as soon as possible, because women
have waited long enough.
Ritu Sharma, Co-Founder and President, Women Thrive Worldwide, Washington, D.C.