Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, announced that the U.S. Department of State has become an official partner of Together for Girls – the global partnership to end sexual violence against girls announced last year by President William J. Clinton at the Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. Through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and in collaboration with the Office of Global Women’s Issues, the U.S. Department of State is the newest partner to join Together for Girls and lend support to end sexual violence. The initiative has three critical categories: conducting national surveys, using these new data to base country-specific interventions tailored to address sexual violence, and launching public awareness campaigns to motivate changes in social norms and behaviors.
Reflecting the importance of addressing sexual violence to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the announcement about the expansion of the partnership was made at a reception coinciding with the United Nations Summit in New York. The event brought together key stakeholders to explore avenues for private-public collaboration to end sexual violence against girls.
Sexual violence against girls affects over 150 million girls worldwide. It is a global human rights violation of vast proportions, with severe health and social consequences. Rape and sexual exploitation of girls contribute to HIV transmission, and young girls in particular are at increased biological risk of contracting HIV. Protection and education of girls is a contributing factor to overall economic growth in developing countries. Ending sexual violence will allow girls worldwide to live safer and healthier lives and fulfill their rights to freedom from violence, exploitation and abuse. Ending sexual violence against girls is central to achieving justice and prosperity.
Since the launch of Together for Girls last year, the partnership has been working in countries to inform and implement a coordinated approach to policy and programs for ending sexual violence against girls. In Swaziland, interventions to prevent and respond to sexual violence against girls are ongoing by the government and civil society partners, supported by UNICEF and other key partners such as UNAIDS. In Tanzania, a comprehensive national survey was completed in 2009 to estimate the magnitude and impact of sexual violence against children, supported by UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition to PEPFAR and the U.S. State Department’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, the Together for Girls partnership includes the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNIFEM, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation, the Nduna Foundation, BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), and Grupo ABC of Brazil.