GRW Signs Joint Gender Community Statement on U.S. Foreign Assistance

 

Global Rights for Women (GRW), along with more than 100 organizations in the gender community, calls on Congress to support a robust U.S. foreign assistance budget. Each year when Congress budgets and appropriates federal spending to provide for our common prosperity and security, it makes important decisions about American values and reflects those values to the nation and the world. Typically, this includes investing in the long-held and cherished American tradition of supporting vulnerable people at home and abroad, including the most marginalized, with the critical assistance they need to build healthy, self-sufficient lives. Increasingly, the U.S. has shown bold leadership supporting women and girls to achieve their full potential, including those that make up 70 percent of the 1.3 billion people worldwide living in extreme poverty.

By spending less than one percent of the budget, our foreign assistance dollars provide lifesaving assistance and transform lives and economies for the better across the globe. It is worth the penny on the dollar to support women entrepreneurs, business owners, and small shareholder farmers to become more self-reliant because doing so helps them lift themselves and their communities out of poverty. Including women in humanitarian and peacekeeping efforts not only brings their perspectives to the table, but also makes America’s noteworthy assistance in conflict and emergency settings more efficient and impactful. Preventing violence against women – which affects an estimated 35 percent of women worldwide – helps women be more secure, productive members of their societies and builds lasting peace both abroad and for Americans here at home. Foreign assistance is such a small sum, yet it means the difference between life or death for millions of women and girls globally.

“Preventing violence against women – which affects an estimated 35 percent of women worldwide – helps women be more secure, productive members of their societies and builds lasting peace both abroad and for Americans here at home.”

For decades, foreign assistance has reflected and advanced American values globally. This strong bipartisan effort has helped people escape the cycle of poverty and oppression so they can lead secure and productive lives. Investments in women and girls bring high returns for economic growth, well-being, and democratic governance, which maximize the benefits gained from the investment of United States’ taxpayer dollars. In fact, research has shown that gender inequality is bad for economic growth. If women were able to participate in the economy equally, it would yield a 26 percent increase in global GDP, or $28 trillion in 2025. As history has shown, foreign assistance also helps America develop strong trade, political and military partners – for instance, 11 of America’s top 15 trading partners were once recipients of U.S. foreign aid.

In this work, the U.S. has been a model and beacon of hope to women and girls who survive violence, poverty, health threats and various forms of discrimination. Through the years, both Republican and Democratic administrations have invested in girls’ education, women’s health, economic opportunity, political participation, human rights, education and much more. For example, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) started under the leadership of President George W. Bush has now reached tens of millions of people through life-saving medications and one million adolescent girls via critical HIV prevention interventions. These initiatives have become core to our foreign policy, our response to humanitarian emergencies, and our efforts to fight poverty around the world. We have already seen that investments in women and girls makes U.S. aid more effective. Cuts to any part of the foreign assistance budget will necessarily mean cuts to critical programs for women and girls, and for many such cuts could be life-threatening.

The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – including through the leadership of an Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues at State and a Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at USAID–have been strong partners in advancing the bipartisan goal of empowering women and girls. Increasingly, agencies like MCC, Peace Corps, Labor and Agriculture, have also joined in this effort. Together, their efforts have made the United States a global powerhouse in leading the advancement of women and girls worldwide. Yet this work could be lost if it is not prioritized with appropriations and political commitment.

This appropriations cycle, GRW, along with the following signatories, calls on Congress to remember the millions of women and girls who are counting on them to continue the proud, bipartisan and noble tradition of American goodwill and global leadership, leadership that they too often fail to see in their own countries. Congress must maintain funding for the international affairs budget at robust levels, including international development and humanitarian assistance, to provide lifesaving and impactful support for girls and women globally.

List of signatory organizations

  1. 1,000 Days
  2. Advancing Girls’ Education in Africa (AGE Africa)
  3. Advocates for Youth
  4. AFL-CIO
  5. Alliance for Peacebuilding
  6. American Association of University Women (AAUW)
  7. American Jewish World Service
  8. American Medical Student Association
  9. American University Washington College of Law
  10. Amnesty International USA
  11. AVAC
  12. Baha’is of the United States
  13. Breakthrough
  14. CARE USA
  15. Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)
  16. Center for Inquiry
  17. Center for Reproductive Rights
  18. ChildFund International
  19. ChildVoice International
  20. Chino Cienega Foundation
  21. CORE Group
  22. Council for Global Equality
  23. Double Hope Films
  24. EngenderHealth
  25. Equality Now
  26. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  27. Feminist Majority Foundation
  28. Free the Slaves
  29. Friends of UNFPA
  30. Futures Without Violence
  31. Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Sciences
  32. Girl Determined
  33. Girl Rising
  34. Girl Up
  35. GirlForward
  36. Girls Rights Project
  37. Global Fund for Women
  38. Global Network of Black People working in HIV
  39. Global Progressive Hub
  40. Global Rights for Women
  41. GreeneWorks
  42. Handicap International
  43. Health GAP (Global Access Project)
  44. Heartland Alliance International
  45. Heifer International
  46. Human Rights Campaign
  47. Institute for Reproductive Health, Georgetown University
  48. International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)
  49. International Civil Society Action Network
  50. International HIV/AIDS Alliance
  51. International Justice Mission (IJM)
  52. International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
  53. International Rescue Committee
  54. International Women’s Health Coalition
  55. International Youth Alliance for Family Planning
  56. International Youth Foundation
  57. IntraHealth International
  58. IPAS
  59. IPPF/WHR
  60. IREX
  61. Islamic Relief USA
  62. John Snow, Inc. (JSI)
  63. Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing
  64. Jubitz Family Foundation
  65. Management Sciences for Health
  66. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
  67. Mercy Corps
  68. Mercy-USA for Aid and Development
  69. National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
  70. National Association of Social Workers
  71. PAI
  72. Pastoralist Child Foundation
  73. PATH
  74. Pathfinder
  75. Peace is Loud
  76. Peace X Peace
  77. Peaceful Families Project
  78. Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon
  79. Plan International USA
  80. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA)
  81. Polaris
  82. Population Connection
  83. Population Council
  84. Population Institute
  85. Population Media Center
  86. Population Reference Bureau (PRB)
  87. Promundo-US
  88. Protect the People (PTP)
  89. Refugees International
  90. Saferworld
  91. Sahiyo
  92. Save the Children
  93. Shadhika Project, Inc.
  94. Sierra Club
  95. Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces
  96. Smash Strategies
  97. Solidarity Center
  98. Tahirih Justice Center
  99. The Global Fund for Children
  100. The Hunger Project
  101. The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
  102. The WomanStats Project
  103. Too Young to Wed
  104. S. National Committee for UN Women
  105. UN Association of the USA
  106. Unchained at Last
  107. USA-Mali Charitable Association of NYC
  108. Vital Voices Global Partnership
  109. Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA)
  110. Weill Cornell School of Medicine
  111. Winrock International
  112. Women Deliver
  113. Women Enabled International
  114. Women for Women International
  115. Women Graduates USA
  116. Women of Reform Judaism
  117. Women Thrive Alliance
  118. Women’s Action for New Directions
  119. Women’s Global Education Project
  120. Women’s Refugee Commission
  121. World Education, Inc.
  122. World Hope International
  123. ZanaAfrica Foundation

 

U made the right call and sent an important message

Written by Helen Rubenstein and originally published in the Star Tribune on Thursday, January 5th, 2017:

Handling of the episode signals a strong stand against sexual assault on campus.

The University of Minnesota did the right thing by firing head football coach Tracy Claeys. Though university leaders have focused on benefits to the football program in recent media interviews, the most important message the firing sends is that the university is taking a strong stand against sexual assault on campus.

Even before Tuesday’s announcement, the university had responded forcefully to the horrific actions by multiple Gopher football players on Sept. 2 of last year. Building on the thorough and fair-minded investigation by the university’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) office and the termination of Coach Claeys, the university can continue to show leadership in creating a campus environment that respects women’s human right to be free from sexual violence.

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In Whose Best Interest? Custody and Parenting Time Decisions in the Context of Family Violence

One in nine children are exposed to physical or psychological violence between their parents each year.  Exposure to intimate partner violence may include witnessing the violence firsthand, seeing a parent’s injuries afterward or overhearing a parent verbally abuse the other parent.

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Justice for Children

When children are exposed to intimate partner violence, the effects are profound.  Studies have found that children who witness domestic violence often experience negative health issues, such as depression and anxiety, and have difficulty in school.  Further, when intimate partner violence is normalized within a household, children face an increased likelihood of engaging in violent behavior in their adult lives.  Children may even become victims themselves, as there is a well-established connection between intimate partner violence and child abuse.

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The Women, Peace and Security Act: A Significant Step Forward For Sustainable Global Peace

peace-and-equalityIn a significant step forward for effective global peace building, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Act on Tuesday, November 15th. The act promotes the meaningful participation of women in peace negotiations with the goal of preventing, mitigating and resolving violent conflict.

Four years in the making, the bipartisan legislation acknowledges the critical role that women play in national security and foreign policy. Historically, women have been excluded from or underrepresented at the negotiation table in the U.S. and around the world, and extensive research exists to show that this has likely prevented progress in fostering sustainable peace. For example, a 2015 publication by the International Peace Institute entitled “Reimagining Peacemaking: Women’s Roles in Peace Processes” reported that when negotiations include women, peace agreements are 35 percent more likely to be successful for a period of 15 years or longer.

This type of evidence helped fuel the creation of the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, which has existed since 2011 and is aligned with the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000). However, the WPS Act, if passed by the Senate, would establish legislation to ensure that the plan is fully implemented. Essentially, it would turn our action plan into law. Continue reading

The Darkness of Traumatic Brain Injuries: Not Just for Football Anymore

Headaches. Dizziness. Memory loss. Confusion. Irritability. Depression. Aggression.sadness-woman-looking-down

When imagining the people that experience these symptoms, who comes to mind? Based on current events, and potentially life experiences, you’d likely say football players. That was certainly the first group that came to my mind, as I played in college and am an avid fan well aware of the troubling information uncovered connecting the sad stories of many retired NFL players diagnosed with CTE resulting from brain injuries suffered during their playing days. You might also include boxers and/or soldiers in your answer. And all of those answers are correct.  Experts are finally taking note that, for each group, such symptoms may not appear right away but likely are the result of trauma from repeated blows to the head. But the experts’ findings are also true for another group largely forgotten in this discussion and left in the dark.

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GRW in Sarajevo and Berlin

In the last month Global Rights for Women has met with dozens of women from Europe and Central Asia who are all pursuing the goal of ending violence against women. In October we were consultants to a United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women (UNTF) conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Then we traveled to Berlin for the Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE) network’s annual conference. It was wonderful to share in the energy and inspiration of the global sisterhood.

At the UNTF conference NGO representatives and others gathered to report on the outcome of grants they received to promote a multi-sectoral response to violence against women. A multi-sectoral response simply means that those who are charged with responding to violence against women collaborate in their efforts to ensure that victims are protected, their needs are met and that perpetrators are held accountable. The participants in a multi-sectoral response may include police, prosecutors, courts, social and healthcare services, and NGO victim advocates. The collaboration can take many forms, from simple referral networks to Coordinated Community Response (CCR), the comprehensive method developed in Minnesota in the 1980’s.

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Breaking the Silence

Though the work of Global Rights for Women focuses on systems change and legal form, we believe that in order to do our work effectively, we have to be continuously connected to the voices and experiences of survivors. In a four-part series on trauma-informed skills, Twin Cities, Minnesota advocate and survivor Sarah Super shares her insights on how we can be trauma-sensitive in our support of survivors of gender-based violence. Read on for the final installment in Sarah’s series. Click here for Parts One, Two and Three in the series.

Survivors of sexual violence surround each of us. I didn’t learn this until I was raped. Before I was sexually assaulted, I could not name one survivor I knew. No one had talked to me about their own experiences of surviving sexual violence, so I assumed sexual violence wasn’t a lived reality for my friends and family.

But I was wrong. In the first six weeks after being raped, I learned firsthand that silence surrounds and protects sexual violence. And I learned why sexual assault was something very few people felt safe talking about: from the failure of our criminal justice system to hold perpetrators accountable to the shame and stigma our community casts on sexual assault victims to the lack of trauma-informed allies. In my own experience, I was discouraged from talking about what happened to me for fear that it would risk the outcome of the court process. I was shamed that I had chosen a rapist for a boyfriend, as one person told me. My life was dissected in attempts to analyze and prepare for whatever defense my rapist’s team of attorneys and supporters might come up with.

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A Reflection on Event with Gloria Steinem

Last week, Global Rights for Women celebrated our 2nd anniversary with over 500 friends – old and new – at the Hilton Minneapolis. We were thrilled to have the support of various community partners and to raise money to support our international work to end violence against women and girls.
We were thrilled to be joined by Gloria Steinem, who shared her perspective on the pandemic of violence against women. Her wisdom and insights motivates and regularly informs and inspires our work. If you missed the conversation, check out the live recording on our Facebook Page.
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Our vision is a world without violence. This is a time of great change and progress for women in our world. We value your partnership as we embrace this opportunity. Thank you for being a part of our community and working with us!

Everyone Suffers When Violence Keeps Girls Out of School

Malagasy School girlsAround the world children are returning to or starting school for the first time. For many families the beginning of the school year is a time of hope and excitement.  Children are looking forward to meeting new friends, learning and trying new activities. What we so often forget amongst the bustle of new school supplies and first day pictures is that millions of children all around the world go without an education.

2013 estimates indicate that 59 million children did not have access to an elementary school education, over half of these children are girls. Lack of education has long term detrimental effects on everything from the ability to find and secure work to child and maternal health. A good education is critical to the development of children and to the sustainable development of societies. Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said; “There is no tool more effective for development than the education of girls.”
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The Impact of Violence on the Incarceration Rate for American Women

This post is part of an ongoing series on the intersection of law and how it interacts with violence against women, illuminating how it is equally critical to make effective implementation of law, as well as the legislation itself, a priority. For background and the inspiration of this series, start here.

Although the American public has focused its attention lately on criminal justice reform, the prison population in the United States still continues to grow. In fact, statistics reveal that the number of incarcerated American women has increased by more than 700 percent from 1980 to 2014—nearly 1.5 times the rate of men.

Woman handcuffsIt should come as no surprise that mass incarceration takes a toll on our society, not only costing the United States roughly $80 billion a year on corrections expenditures, or hindering an individual’s ability to meaningfully contribute to society, but also impacting Americans outside the prison walls. Seventy-five percent of prisoners have a hard time finding employment once they are released. When a family member is incarcerated, nearly 65 percent of families cannot afford to pay for basic necessities, like food and housing.

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