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Diplomacy in Action

Opening Remarks at the Launch of the Gender-Based Violence Emergency Repsonse Initiative


Remarks
Sarah Sewall
Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights 
Washington, DC
March 20, 2014

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Thank you, Uzra, for that kind introduction. It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the public launch of the Gender Based Violence Emergency Response and Protection Initiative. I’d like to start by thanking the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, as well as Vital Voices, and Avon for their work on this initiative, and for making it possible for all of us to be here today. Let’s give them a round of applause.

We are here today to recognize that through enhanced coordination and strategic partnerships, we can bridge the difference between despair and hope in the life of a person who has experienced violence due to their sex or gender.

With $1 million in seed money, the GBV Initiative fills a gap to assist the most vulnerable individuals with urgent help when it’s most needed. The U.S. Department of State, Vital Voices, and the Avon Foundation have come together to steward a global network of dedicated civil society organizations to provide concrete, targeted assistance to individuals in need, particularly women and girls.

This global network of organizations includes some of the best of their kind from around the world. Lead consortium partners include Promundo, the International Organization for Migration, and the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative.

Now, when we hear of egregious cases of gender-based violence, like a case of forced marriage or human trafficking or an individual under credible threat of imminent attack due to their sex or gender, we can do more than just to connect people with experts or local organizations and hope for the best. Now, we can directly help those local organizations support the survivors by paying for the critical and timely care that is needed.

Of course, immediate protection of survivors of GBV is essential, but so too is addressing the systemic challenges that perpetuate violence, gender inequality, and injustice. This initiative also provides targeted training to key countries for the implementation of legislation through coordinated community responses and survivor-centered approaches.

This new Initiative addresses this need by supporting a specialized training program for law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, government officials, and NGO advocates, including men and boys. Over the next two years, the project will assist criminal justice professionals and service providers in India, Mexico, Nepal, South Africa, and other countries to develop and provide training that promotes a victim-centered approach to holding offenders accountable for their crimes.

The Gender Based Violence Emergency Response and Protection Initiative is one of many coordinated responses from the U.S. Department of State, and will be implemented in tandem with other key initiatives like the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and USAID’s Safe from the Start that protects women and girls from the very beginning of conflicts and disasters; and the essential diplomatic, policy and programmatic leadership provided by the Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues to ensure that gender equality and female empowerment are fully integrated in the formulation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy.

Any person who has faced violence due to their gender should not be forever defined by that experience. Access to care and services are an essential part of supporting personal resilience. It is our hope that this Initiative can help fill the need for emergency services, bolster the community of care by supporting a global network of advocates and practitioners, and ultimately, prevent such violence from happening again.

Thank you for your support for this initiative, and congratulations on its launch.



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