By Valerie Mickiewicz, JWI Executive Associate & Library Project Coordinator
On Friday, August 10th, President Obama issued an Executive Order on Preventing and Responding to Violence Against Women and Girls Globally to advance the rights, status and security of women worldwide. This order does more than just promote abstract work to end violence against women; it is a firm step forward, using concrete data and research, toward ending harmful practices worldwide.
The same day the order was issued, I attended an event hosted by the White House to discuss the launch of this new strategy. It’s an approach developed by the Department of State and USAID in coordination with other relevant U.S. government departments and agencies, and it aims to prevent and respond to gender-based violence by:
• Coordinating gender-based violence prevention and response efforts among U.S. government agencies and other stakeholders;
• Integrating those anti-violence efforts into existing U.S. government work;
• Improving gender-based violence prevention and response with better data and research collection and analysis ; and
• Expanding and improving U.S. government programs that address gender-based violence.
The strategy uses data and statistics to demonstrate the tremendous impact violence has on women and their communities. Although collecting data sounds like passive work, it creates a vivid picture of the pain millions of women experience daily. An estimated one in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. The forms of violence include human trafficking, sexual violence, female genital mutilation/cutting, and “honor” killings, among many others. I hope that these startling facts will compel Americans to stand behind the White House’s important work on this issue.
Listening to the panel’s remarks at the White House gathering, I could feel the passion behind their efforts and see the inspiration they drew from organizations like JWI. Panel member Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, encouraged anti-violence organizations to continue fighting for victims of violence. Organizations like JWI are vital to this effort because we hold the government accountable to stand up for the women and girls who need it the most.