Tuesday, October 6, 2009

IVAWA: A Human Rights Issue

The International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) was among various pieces of legislation that was discussed during the Feminist Majority’s Women, Money and Power Summit.

IVAWA seeks to address violence against women by creating an “Office for Women’s Global Initiatives,” which would be overseen by a Senate-confirmed Ambassador who reports directly to the Secretary of State. Additionally, IVAWA would create a five year strategy to prevent and respond to violence against women in ten to twenty targeted countries. It would also provide $175 million yearly budget that combats violence against women by focusing on the criminal justice system, health care, access to education for girls, economic empowerment, and public awareness campaigns. The last major initiative that IVAWA addresses is rape as a war tactic. IVAWA mandates training, reporting procedures and other measures for those working with refugees.

It is apparent that IVAWA is not just a woman’s rights issue, but it is also a human rights issue. What is less obvious, although equally important to IVAWA, are the security issues that it attempts to address. War ravaged or conflict-ridden societies are indicative of increased levels of violence, which can leave women vulnerable to violence and displacement. Without legislation such as this that addresses the needs of women, economic development in these countries is difficult to sustain. Without economic development various societies cannot become stabilized nations.

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