International Women’s Day is held on March 8 to celebrate the achievements of women through history and across the globe. In recognition of International Women’s Day this year, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate reintroduced the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA).
IVAWA was reintroduced in the House as H.R. 1340 by nine Democrats and nine Republicans – its strongest bipartisan support to date. Sens. Barbara Boxer, D. Calif., Mark Kirk R., Ill., Susan Collins, R. Maine, Jeanne Shaheen, D. N.H., and Robert Menendez, D. N.J., who were all original co-sponsors of the bill, reintroduced IVAWA in the Senate as S. 713.
One in three women worldwide will be raped, beaten, or abused in her lifetime. Violence against women is not confined to one geographical location and affects millions of women and girls across nations. It’s a human rights violation and global health crisis that leads to instability and impedes economic progress.
The passage of IVAWA is vital to ensuring that ending this violence against women and girls around the world is a top foreign policy priority for the United States. IVAWA calls for streamlining and better coordinating programs to combat gender-based violence across U.S government agencies and codifying the ongoing U.S Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally (the Strategy). IVAWA also promotes women’s empowerment internationally through educational and economic opportunities and inclusion in civic and political life.
“Millions upon millions of women and girls continue to face gender-based violence in the course of their daily lives and far too many are denied basic human rights,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D. Ill., in a recent op-ed on why she co-sponsored the bill. “When girls can get an education and women can work and run businesses, or even serve as elected officials, the world benefits.”
In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) as a national strategy to combat violence against women. VAWA provides support for programs and services for victims of violence, including community violence prevention programs and rape crisis centers. It also increases criminal justice provisions to hold offenders accountable for violence against women.
VAWA has been reauthorized by bipartisan majorities in Congress in 2000, 2005, and finally in 2013, after a legislative battle with Republicans in the House of Representatives. In 2013, after the Senate passed a bipartisan, inclusive version of VAWA to protect all vulnerable communities, House Republican leadership offered a partisan substitute to VAWA that failed to protect all victims of domestic abuse. After a long debate, the House eventually passed the more inclusive Senate version of VAWA that included critical protections for Native American women, students on college campuses, and LGBT people.