American Jewish World Service Launches Major New Campaign to Support International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA)

New national ‘We Believe’ campaign will also press for U.S. policies to support LGBT rights and end child marriage globally

NEW YORK, NY—As part of an ambitious new multi-year national advocacy campaign, American Jewish World Service (AJWS) today launched a major push to urge the U.S. Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), which was recently introduced in the House of Representatives. AJWS, the leading Jewish international development and human rights organization, believes that passing IVAWA is a moral imperative and it has committed to making this legislation the first focus of its new We Believe campaign.

“Women and girls are under attack around the world. One in three women is abused, beaten or raped during her lifetime, and we must not stand idly by when millions of women and girls need us to act,” said Ruth Messinger, president of AJWS. “We must mobilize American Jews, women and other supporters of human rights to call upon our government to do all it can to help stop this onslaught of violence against women and girls.

“As Americans, we are in a unique position to help women worldwide. As Jews, we understand all too well the consequences of violence, because it was used against women in our communities in too many places and at too many times. We believe Congress must pass IVAWA and make ending violence against women and girls worldwide a top priority of the United States government,” Messinger said.

IVAWA would, for the first time, codify a comprehensive approach by the U.S. to fight violence against women and girls internationally.

“I’m so incredibly proud to partner with AJWS on this very critical issue of stopping violence against women,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), an original cosponsor of IVAWA.  “Violence against women is a humanitarian tragedy, a global health catastrophe and a threat to national security. IVAWA would make ending violence against women a U.S. foreign policy priority; promote health programs and survivor services, civil and criminal legal protections, educational opportunities and promotion of economic opportunities for women and girls. AJWS is a true leader in promoting international human rights and development, and understands that we can’t have prosperous societies around the world if the rights of women are ignored.”

“Every day and in every nation, women are victims of violence,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee and original cosponsor of IVAWA. “Violence not only makes it harder for women to lead healthy, safe, and productive lives, this shameful scourge reverberates through every level of society and erodes stability, prosperity, and democracy.  That is why addressing violence against women and girls must be a priority of the United States. We must pass IVAWA to take real and meaningful steps toward protecting women, reducing poverty, and promoting economic development and stability around the world.”

If passed, IVAWA would:

  • Guarantee that ending violence against women and girls will remain a top U.S. diplomatic priority by making permanent the Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State
  • Target U.S. aid dollars and diplomatic efforts to reduce violence against women and girls in at least five specific countries with high rates of gender-based violence
  • Ensure at least 10 percent of U.S. assistance goes directly to local groups working on this issue in communities around the world
  • Increase the effectiveness of programs by integrating the issue of violence against women and girls into existing U.S.-funded health, economic, educational, legal aid and humanitarian programs

In addition to advocating for the passage of IVAWA, the We Believe campaign will call upon the Obama administration to play a leadership role in an unprecedented international effort to end hate crimes again LGBT people. Through the campaign, AJWS and its supporters will also call on Congress to fully fund programs to empower women and girls in the developing world, including programs aiming to end child marriage.

To encourage the federal government to take action AJWS will:

  • Mobilize its supporters to meet with members of Congress
  • Hold local events across the U.S., including several this week, to launch the campaign
  • Launch a major social media and online organizing push
  • Encourage supporters to write letters to the editor and blog posts, organize vigils, and hold film screenings
  • Collaborate with other organizations committed to passing IVAWA

We Believe is inspired by AJWS’s core belief in dignity and human rights for all, rooted in the Jewish commitment to justice. By advocating for U.S. policies that improve the lives of people in the developing world, We Believe works to accomplish the same goals as those of the hundreds of grassroots and global human rights organizations that AJWS supports in the developing world. With AJWS’s assistance, these organizations advance the health and human rights of women, girls and LGBT people; promote recovery from conflict, disasters and oppression; and defend access to food, land and livelihoods.

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