About the Author: Ambassador Luis CdeBaca serves as Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and directs the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Today all over the world people — men and women — will rise in solidarity and call for an end to violence against women. Why is this happening? The rising started with a handful of advocates seeking to call global attention to the violence that is perpetrated against women and girls every day and it has been fueled by awareness and concern in communities around the world that this abuse is a serious human rights issue that must end. Communities are connected as never before by technology and social media — and the result is a worldwide call to action.
Violence against women and girls undermines their full participation in society and is found and cuts across ethnicity, race, class, religion, education level, and international borders. The numbers are staggering. An estimated one in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetime. Gender-based violence includes physical, sexual, and psychological abuse; threats; coercion; and economic deprivation, whether occurring in public or private life. Types of gender-based violence can include female infanticide; child sexual abuse; sexual coercion and abuse; neglect; domestic violence; elder abuse; and harmful traditional practices such as early and forced marriage, “honor killings,” and female genital mutilation/cutting. Intimate partner violence is the most common form of violence against women, and nearly 50 percent of all sexual assaults worldwide are committed against girls 15 years of age and younger. Additionally, women and girls represent the majority of the tens of millions of victims of sex trafficking and forced labor.
The United States has put gender equality and the advancement of women and girls at the forefront of the three pillars of U.S. foreign policy — diplomacy, development, and defense. This is embodied in the President’s National Security Strategy, the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, and the 2010 U.S. Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR),and the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.President Obama ordered executive branch agencies to deepen their engagement and integrate preventing and responding to gender-based violence — including human trafficking — into foreign policy and foreign assistance efforts. In response, the United States launched the first-ever U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence in August of last year. The strategy lays out concrete objectives and actions to marshal the United States’ expertise and capacity to address gender-based violence, and represents a multi-sector and whole of government approach — one that includes the justice, legal, security, health, education, economic, social services, humanitarian, and development sectors.
The One Billion Rising campaign calls for an end to violence against women and girls. Today the campaign rises to demand an end to this violence and to demonstrate the movement’s collective strength. On this day, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Cross posted from DipNote, the official blog of the U.S. Department of State