In Laos, Nalylor witnessed many traditional practices in her community that were unfair for women and girls. During her university studies, she participated in a social work training supported by the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI). Upon reflection of her experience, Nalylor said, “As we talked about gender-based violence, I realized that even though I saw a lot of issues happening in my own village, I never knew it was ‘violence.’” Information from S/GWI’s Comprehensive Gender-Based Violence Global Prevention and Response Initiative training and an internship program helped Nalylor facilitate sessions and important discussions in her family and community to change perceptions about gender-based violence (GBV). This is just one example of the Department of State’s many efforts aimed at enhancing survivor-centered efforts to prevent and respond to GBV.
For three decades, the global community has marked November 25th as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW), which kicks off the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, ending on December 10 – International Human Rights Day. This year marks the 30th anniversary of this international campaign. For years the United States has observed IDEVAW and the accompanying 16 Days campaign, reaffirming its commitment to promoting gender equity and equality and empowering women and girls, in all their diversity, around the world.
It is often women who lead the charge for human rights, democracy, and justice, including in places where women hold much less than half of the political, economic, and social power. And it’s often women and girls who are the most vulnerable to human rights abuses.- Secretary Antony Blinken
The United States has made many strides in promoting the equal rights of women and girls but recognizes there is still more to be done both at home and around the world. As stated in the , the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the longstanding challenges faced by women and girls and exacerbated GBV in the United States and around the world. In order to address the “shadow pandemic,” survivor-centered efforts to prevent and respond to GBV must be prioritized in the immediate COVID-19 response, and beyond. The United States remains firm in its commitment to addressing the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on women and girls in all their diversity, as well as other critical issues such as climate change, conflict, and crisis. Preventing and responding to GBV requires us all to act—governments, individuals, faith leaders, the private sector, and civil society.
Preventing And Responding to All Forms of Gender-Based Violence
The White House recently released the historic, first-ever government-wide National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, which identified eliminating GBV as one of the core priorities. The National Gender Strategy outlines priorities for preventing and responding to GBV both domestically and globally. These include developing and strengthening national and global laws and policies targeting GBV, addressing the systemic barriers that survivors face by supporting comprehensive services, increasing GBV prevention and response in conflict and humanitarian settings, and promoting the safety and fair treatment of all people in justice and immigration systems.
In line with these commitments, the United States will release the first-ever U.S. National Action Plan to End GBV and will update and strengthen the 2016 U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally. Both strategic documents will further U.S. leadership in this space by guiding the design, implementation, and responsible oversight of GBV-focused policy and programming. Additionally, prevention and response to GBV is enshrined within the U.S. Strategy on Women, Peace, and Security. Protecting women and girls, in all their diversity, is crucial to furthering participation by women in governance, security, and peace decision-making processes.
In alignment with the United States’ priorities on GBV, the U.S. Department of State supports foreign assistance programming focused on preventing and responding to GBV, including in humanitarian emergencies, and supporting women and girls like Nalylor and Susan. Projects support prevention through educating and engaging communities, parents, and youth; survivor-centered approaches to protection and response services; and efforts to support accountability for GBV, including technical assistance to educators, employers, public utilities, police, legal actors, and health care workers to assist in addressing GBV.
Globally, we must combat gender-based violence and affirm protections for women.- Secretary Antony Blinken
Women and girls across the world should not have to live in fear of violence; they deserve to live healthy, safe, and empowered lives. Gender equity and equality is not only a matter of human rights, justice, and fairness, but a matter of global prosperity and security. The prevention of GBV results in inclusive economic growth; advances peace and security; contributes to the resolution of conflicts; and enables all of us to more effectively address global challenges such as the climate crisis, forced displacement, the HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 pandemics, and resulting economic and social disruptions.
About the Author: Mya C. Singh-Johal is an intern with the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues for Fall of 2021. Mya is currently a student at Cornell University majoring in Industrial and Labor Relations and minoring in Inequality Studies.