Friday, October 23, 2009

Notes from the subcommittee hearing on I-VAWA

Hello folks,

This Wednesday I was able to attend a really encouraging advocacy hearing, and wanted to share my notes with you. The House Foreign Affairs Committee heard testimony regarding the passage of the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA).

Ms. Schakowsky, co-chair of the Women's Caucus, spoke about the humanitarian concerns of violence against women internationally. She highlighted the fact that I-VAWA establishes the prevention of violence against women as a foreign policy priority, citing its multi-year, comprehensive strategy.

Mr. Delahunt, chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, stated unequivocally that "every person deserves to live a life free of violence." If I understood correctly, he is sponsoring this bill to promote women's human rights and capacity building internationally, in recognition of the September 29, 2009 15th anniversary of the United States' Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Ambassador at Large of Global Women's Issues, Melanne Verveer, called violence against women one of the most serious global challenges of our time, stressing that it cannot and must not be relegated to the margins of foreign policy.

Ms. Smith, Congressperson, spoke primarily about sex trafficking abroad and in the US.

Ms. Mallika Dutt discussed her organization BreakThrough's use of mass media as a prevention tool to end violence against women. Her ultimate message is that ending violence against women is everyone's responsibility, and therefore it makes sense to engage men and boys in anti-violence campaigns. She also stressed the importance of partnering with multiple stakeholders and making youth outreach and participation a vital component of any advocacy campaign.

Ms. Nicole Kidman, a UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador, spoke to the point that violence against women is the most widespread human rights violation on the planet. She called I-VAWA a "comprehensive approach that acknowledges that women's rights are human rights," and which "requires political will at the highest levels to have an impact." She also talked about the fact that UNIFEM is solutions-based, working within local cultures to develop sustainable local answers.

Mr. Burton, Congressperson, spoke about being at home when his father tried to kill his mother, stressing that violence against women effects not only the women themselves, but all who love and care about them as well.

All in all, it was a good forum for advocacy and I am looking forward to reading the written testimony that each witness submitted to garner a more substantive feel for what I-VAWA entails.