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US launches strategy against gender-based violence

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Natalie Calkin
WVoN co-editor

The US last week launched a new approach to address gender-based violence.

The strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally will ensure greater coordination between US-government agencies and other stakeholders.

It will also enhance integration of gender-based violence prevention and response efforts into existing US government work.

The strategy was launched at the White House following an Executive Order by President Obama, who highlighted the need for action and policy intervention to tackle gender-based violence.

Confirming his adminstration’s commitment to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment, he emphasised that violence against women is “a human rights challenge .. a public health challenge, and a barrier to civic, social, political, and economic participation [of women]”.

The executive order also requires a new inter-agency working group to be established that will coordinate the implementation of the strategy and ensure it benefits millions of women and girls around the world.

US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, will jointly chair the inter-agency working group with Rajiv Shah, the administrator of the US agency for International Development (USAID).

In a press release, the White House said Obama aims to “promote gender equality in U.S. foreign policy and to bring about a world in which all individuals can pursue their aspirations without the threat of violence”.

One in three women worldwide have been beaten, forced into sex or otherwise abused, the White House said, listing intimate partner violence as the most prevalent form of violence against women.

With 11 weeks to go before elections, some say that both Obama and Mitt Romney (the Republican presidential candidate) are looking to secure women’s votes. Women made up 53% of the electorate in the 2008 US election, and their votes gave Obama 13 points over his then opponent John McCain.

However, in a week in which Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin suggested that women can’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape”, we can only hope that Obama does not have too much difficulty persuading women to vote for him.

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