On August 10, 2012, the United States released the first-ever U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally and President Barack Obama signed an accompanying Executive Order directing all relevant U.S. agencies to implement the Strategy.
Gender-based violence cuts across ethnicity, race, class, religion, education level, and international borders. Statistics on the prevalence of violence vary, but the scale is tremendous, the scope is vast, and the consequences for individuals, families, communities, and countries are devastating.
An estimated one in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Intimate partner violence is the most common form of violence experienced by women globally. Other forms of violence include human trafficking, sexual violence, including when used as a tactic of war, and harmful traditional practices, such as early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, and “honor” killings.
The Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally is one of many U.S. Government efforts to raise the status of women and girls around the world, and underscores the United States’ commitment to preventing and responding to gender-based violence. “Such violence undermines not only the safety, dignity, and human rights of the millions of individuals who experience it, but also threatens public health, economic stability, and security.
The Strategy outlines four key objectives:
1) to increase coordination of gender-based violence prevention and response efforts among U.S. Government agencies and other stakeholders;
2) to enhance integration of gender-based violence prevention and response efforts into existing U.S. Government work;
3) to improve collection, analysis, and use of data and research to enhance gender-based violence prevention and response efforts;
4) to enhance or expand U.S. Government programming that addresses gender-based violence.
President Barack Obama’s Executive Order, which created an interagency working group co-chaired by the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, directs U.S. departments and agencies to implement the new strategy. Recognizing that this is a long-term commitment, the Executive Order also directs the interagency working group to update or revise the strategy after three years.