In early February, amid the presidential budget frenzy and discussions of spending freezes, Senate and House Congressional champions announced the reintroduction of the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA). Lead sponsors of the IVAWA are Senator Kerry, Senator Boxer, Senator Snowe, Congressman Delahunt, Congressman Poe and Congresswoman Schakowsky. Together these members reaffirmed their commitment to ending violence against women by raising awareness, empowering women to become economically independent, and working with advocates on the ground to eliminate sexual violence as a war tactic for armed conflict.
The IVAWA is the first comprehensive piece of legislation in the United States aimed at ending violence against women and girls around the world. It is a bill driven both by moral consciousness and the recognition that U.S. national security is tied to the depth of international violence and the value of human life. “In the last 50 years, more women have been killed because of their gender than all men engaged in armed conflict,” Senator Boxer stated, quoting Nicholas Kristof’s new book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
Passage of the IVAWA during the 111th session of Congress will be difficult and Representative Schakowsky challenged the audience of advocates to energize their grassroots networks, educate their Members of Congress, and demonstrate that the U.S., as a leader on human rights, must uphold its responsibilities and swiftly pass this bill.
The IVAWA, H.R. 4594 in the House of Representatives and S.2982 in the Senate, is currently cosponsored by 50 Members of Congress – 25 in each chamber. To secure the passage of this bill, we need a broad demonstration of bipartisan support – a commitment from members on both sides of the aisle to stand with women against violence.
As advocates and engaged citizens we need to make our voices heard by finding supporters in every state. Encourage your member of Congress to support the passage of IVAWA with JWI’s action alert!