A few months ago, we celebrated a victory of getting VAWA re-enacted! This was huge because the legislation had expired a few months before that, and this new violence against women act included provisions to protect LGBT women and Native American/Alaskan women better. However, we know that violence against women hasn’t stopped, so the next step for us as Amnesty International is to get the International Violence Against Women Act passed through Congress. At least one in every three women globally are beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Passing I-VAWA can make even more of a difference for these women.
What’s the International Violence Against Women Act?
The International Violence Against Women Act is very similar to VAWA, except that it is legislation designed to address violence against women through foreign policy. It was first introduced in the 110th United States Congress, and once more in the 111th, but it has never made it to the floor for a vote. This legislation would not exist without the help of Amnesty International and other concerned organizations, so it’s important that we see that it passes.
What Could I-VAWA Do?
- Address violence against women and girls comprehensively, by supporting health, legal, economic, social, and humanitarian assistance sectors and incorporating violence prevention and response best practices into such programs.
- Alleviate poverty and increase the cost effectiveness of foreign assistance by investing in women.
- Strengthen security by reducing social tensions.
- Support survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and prevent violence.
- Implement the U.S Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence to combat violence against women in five select countries which have a high incidence of violence against women.
- Permanently authorize the Office of Global Women’s Issues in the State Department, as well as the position of the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, who is responsible for coordinating activities, policies, programs, and funding relating to gender integration and women’s empowerment internationally, including those intended to prevent and respond to violence against women.
- Enable the U.S. government to develop a faster and more efficient response to violence against women in humanitarian emergencies and conflict-related situations.
- Build the effectiveness of overseas non-governmental organizations – particularly women’s non-governmental organizations – in addressing violence against women.
Why Haven’t We Heard of I-VAWA Before?
I-VAWA has been introduced in Congress before, tarnished by partisan myths like it will eliminate Mother’s Day or it ignores the fact that women can commit acts of violence too (never mind that the name of the treaty includes “violence against women”). However, if you want to do something about getting I-VAWA passed, then you’re opportunity is coming up in a few short weeks.
Amnesty International semi-annual lobby week is happening on April 29-May 3 (although, we may lobby again or instead on May 27-31, if that works better for folks). We will be focusing our efforts on passing the International Violence Against Women Act and adding House members to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission among other issues. If you are interested in lobbying your elected officials, then please email our Missouri Legislative Coordinator, Kevin, at k.ellison (at) charter (dot) net.
VAWA has passed! Although this is awesome for women in the United States, violence against women takes place all around the world, and we (as a country and as a people) have the power to change things and ensure something happens. I-VAWA is one big step toward that progress.