Washington, DC - Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall launched the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor’s (DRL) Gender-Based Violence Emergency Response and Protection Initiative (GBV Initiative) today at the Department of State. This first-of-its-kind, global program is dedicated to assisting survivors of extreme forms of gender-based violence around the world.

To mark the launch of this program, the Department of State hosted experts from around the world to discuss the initiative, including activists from India, Mexico, Nepal, and South Africa.

The GBV Initiative’s coordination network is funded by DRL, and is managed by a consortium of nongovernmental organizations led by Vital Voices Global Partnership. Consortium partners include Promundo-US, the International Organization for Migration, and the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative. The Avon Foundation for Women also supports Vital Voices’ leadership of the initiative through global efforts to end gender-based violence.

This targeted program addresses the immediate security needs of survivors of severe gender-based violence, as well as individuals under credible threat of imminent attack due to their gender or gender identity. The initiative includes provision of short-term emergency grants to cover medical and psychosocial care, emergency shelter, legal assistance, and other costs.

Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns spoke at the closing session and emphasized the U.S. commitment to combatting gender-based violence worldwide. Following the Deputy Secretary’s remarks, the Initiative’s program partners, including Alyse Nelson, President and CEO of Vital Voices; Sheri McCoy, CEO of Avon Products, Inc.; and pop singer Fergie, Avon Foundation for Women Global Ambassador, made remarks.