Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It marks the beginning of an annual International United Nations campaign urging 16 days of activism.
The campaign is used to highlight and organize strategy around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls, so they have the opportunity to live happy, productive, flourishing lives. The campaign concludes on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day.
Women in the United States can feel good today about recent positive developments that will affect them, along with women around the world. In recent weeks, Congress has been discussing the best ways to combat violence against women. The U.S. has also focused on empowering women around the world economically, recognizing that countries where women are empowered are better partners, increasing our prospects for safety and security.
Last week, Sen. Joni Ernst introduced the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019. The Iowa Republican’s legislation embraces a more modern, stronger, and proactive approach to the current threats faced by young women and girls.
For the first time, this VAWA seriously addresses the horrific practice of female genital mutilation, sex trafficking, honor violence, and child marriage. Many people are shocked to learn that FGM occurs in the U.S., but it does. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 500,000 women and girls in the U.S. have experienced or are at risk of experiencing FGM. We need to make sure that people are aware of this threat and are working to end it.
Honor killings, sex trafficking, and child marriage also occur in the U.S. today. Thousands of young women and girls are affected every year, but until now, the Violence Against Women Act has been silent on these threats. Some people have been reluctant to include the issues, worrying that it’s politically incorrect to talk about issues that affect some population groups more than others. But that is no reason to turn a blind eye to such heinous acts against women and girls.
Also worth celebrating is the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, established this past February as the first whole-of-government effort to advance women’s economic empowerment.
W-GDP aims to reach 50 million women by 2025 through the work of the U.S. government and its partners. The W-GDP focuses on three pillars: women prospering in the workforce, women succeeding as entrepreneurs, and women empowered in the economy.
Just a few days ago, presidential adviser Ivanka Trump announced an additional $50 million for the W-GDP Fund, along with new partnerships that will bolster the work being done by women and for women worldwide.
The W-GDP Initiative recognizes an important truth: When women are economically empowered, they are safer, and their communities are stronger. The creation of economic growth and stability is beneficial for the safety and security of those women and all communities around the world.
As this year comes to an end, we can be proud of meaningful advancements benefiting American women and women abroad. Protection from violence and access to a secure future go hand-in-hand. As we mark this Nov. 25 and the beginning of the Campaign to End Violence Against Women, we know we are better protecting women and just as importantly, empowering them for future success.