Skip to content

Shaheen, Collins, Isakson, Menendez Introduce International Violence Against Women Act

**Bipartisan legislation would make combating violence against women and girls a top U.S. diplomatic priority**

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) led Susan Collins (R-ME), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in re-introducing the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), bipartisan legislation that would ensure combatting gender-based violence around the world remains a top diplomatic and development priority for the United States.

"One in three women and girls around the world will report experiencing gender-based violence in their lifetimes,” said Senator Shaheen. “By denying women and girls the chance to rise to their full potential, gender-based violence stunts economic, political and social progress in our communities. While we have made important progress since the first U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally was implemented in 2012, combatting gender-based violence must remain a cornerstone of U.S. efforts to empower women and girls. This not only means stopping sexual abuse and trafficking, domestic violence, early and forced marriages and other forms of gender-based violence, but also changing societal views and norms in places around the world where women and girls are not agents of their own future.”

“Our legislation will ensure that the U.S. continues to take a leadership role in combatting violence against women and girls around the world. In addition to being a pressing human rights issue, such violence contributes to inequality and political instability, making it a security issue as well as a moral issue for us all,” said Senator Collins. “I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues to end violence against women and girls and to provide the assistance and resources necessary to achieve this goal.”

“The effects of violence against women are far-reaching, and stopping violence against girls and women at home and abroad should continue to be a priority for all of us,” said Senator Isakson. “The United States is a leader in ending gender-based violence around the world. The International Violence Against Women Act will help us better coordinate these important efforts.”  

“Every day, both at home and around the world, we see the news of women suffering from violence and denied the basic security and equal rights they deserve to live a prosperous life,” said Senator Menendez. “From genital mutilation in Somalia, to arranged child marriages in Afghanistan and Chad, to Rohingya women facing  horrific mass rape, murder and arson – the fact is women and girls globally continue to face disproportionate levels of violence. We must work together to end this moral outrage. Societies that prioritize equal rights and combatting gender-based violence are more secure, stable, and prosperous. I am proud to join my colleagues once again in introducing the International Violence Against Women Act to make clear ending gender-based violence and discrimination is a top priority for the United States by ensuring our government has the necessary tools to promote the rights of women and girls, as well as advance their status on a global scale.”

Specifically, the International Violence Against Women Act would:

  • Require the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop and implement a U.S. global strategy to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. Additionally, the State Department and USAID would be responsible for identifying four eligible low and lower-middle income countries for which comprehensive, individual country plans will be developed.
  • Permanently authorize the State Department Office of Global Women’s Issues and the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues to head that Office. 
  • Permanently authorize the USAID Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.
  • Require interagency coordination, monitoring and evaluation of programs and regular briefings to Congress.

Over 50 humanitarian, faith-based, human rights, refugee and women’s organizations voiced their support for the International Violence Against Women Act, including: American Jewish World Service, Amnesty International USA, CARE USA, Church World Service, Futures Without Violence, Human Rights Watch, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), National Organization for Women, UNICEF USA, Vital Voices Global Partnership, Women Thrive Alliance, Women's Refugee Commission and World Vision.

Senator Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been a leading voice in the Senate on global women’s issues. The Women, Peace and Security Act, the Senator’s bill to bolster the role of women in peace negotiations and conflict resolution around the world, was signed into law by President Trump last month. Additionally, the State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs annual appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018 included Senator Shaheen’s amendment to repeal the Global Gag Rule and to allocate federal dollars for international family planning and reproductive health programs. She has also introduced the Keeping Girls in School Act, which would focus attention on the challenges adolescent girls around the world face in accessing a quality education.