Washington, DC - “Sexual violence destroys lives. It fuels conflict, forces people to flee their homes and is often perpetrated alongside other human rights abuses, including forced marriage, sexual slavery, and human trafficking. It undermines reconciliation and traps survivors in conflict, poverty, and insecurity.” ~ Secretary of State John Kerry
Under the leadership of President Barack Obama, the United States has put gender equality and the advancement of women and girls at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy. Preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV) is a cornerstone of the Administration’s commitment to advancing gender equality. In recognition of this policy, and in coordination with other GBV-related programs at the U.S. Department of State and USAID, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) has launched the GBV Emergency Response and Protection Initiative. This Initiative fills a critical gap by providing urgent assistance to threatened individuals with rapid, targeted, short term assistance.
Gender-based violence is a global pandemic that affects women, men and children. GBV should be understood as violence directed at a person based on gender, gender identity, or perceived adherence to socially defined norms of masculinity or femininity. The GBV Initiative can assist individuals facing harmful traditional practices such as early and forced marriage, “honor” killings, and female genital mutilation, as well as other forms of GBV, such as female infanticide; child sexual abuse; sex trafficking and forced labor; sexual coercion and abuse; neglect; domestic/intimate partner violence and elder abuse.
- Short-term Assistance for Survivors: The GBV Initiative 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. Individuals can receive assistance for up to 6 months or $5,000. Assistance is intended to be one-time support. Funds can be used to address short-term emergency needs, like payment of legal and medical bills, relocation, security, and dependent support.
- Targeted training and Advocacy: The Initiative supports integrated training for governments, judiciary and key civil society in implementing laws that address GBV. These trainings are funded by a partnership with the Avon Foundation. The Initiative also supports targeted advocacy programs for civil society groups working to address cultural attitudes and norms around gender-based violence. These programs include engaging men and boys around GBV prevention.
- Building and Coordinating a Global Network: The Initiative will focus on and coordinate programs in 11 hub countries in the Middle East, Africa, South and Central Asia, and Latin America.
The Initiative’s network is managed by a consortium of non-governmental and international organizations led by Vital Voices Global Partnership. Consortium members include Promundo-US, the International Organization for Migration, and the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative.