President Obama Issues New Executive Order To Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls Globally

On August 10, 2012 President Obama issued an executive order “Preventing and Responding to Violence Against Women and Girls Globally,” a set of policy guidelines that set multi-year strategy for issues pertaining to gender based violence on a global scale. The President’s order explains that international policy is needed because, “gender-based violence undermines not only the safety, dignity, and human rights of the millions of individuals who experience it, but also the public health, economic stability, and security of nations.”

President Obama strongly defines the importance of supporting all women, in all nations, when he states that, “Preventing and responding to gender-based violence is a cornerstone of my Administration’s commitment to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment. Such violence significantly hinders the ability of individuals to fully participate in, and contribute to, their communities — economically, politically, and socially. It is a human rights violation or abuse; a public health challenge; and a barrier to civic, social, political, and economic participation. It is associated with adverse health outcomes, limited access to education, increased costs relating to medical and legal services, lost household productivity, and reduced income, and there is evidence it is exacerbated in times of crisis, such as emergencies, natural disasters, and violent conflicts.”

To ensure that the new strategic policy is enforced, President Obama’s executive order also establishes a working group to be co-chaired by the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development and consisting of representatives from at least 12 other agencies including White House Council on Women and Girls.

This working group is responsible for working together to find ways to:

(a) Increase Coordination of Gender-based Violence Prevention and Response Efforts Among U.S. Government Agencies and with Other Stakeholders

(b) Enhance Integration of Gender-based Violence Prevention and Response Efforts into Existing U.S. Government Work

(c) Improve Collection, Analysis, and Use of Data and Research to Enhance Gender-based Violence Prevention and Response Efforts and

(d) Enhance or Expanding U.S. Government Programming that Addresses Gender-based Violence.

While GOP leadership in Washington DC has spent the last several months blocking the Violence Against Women Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, while trying to reframe a women’s rights issue like fair and equal access to healthcare and insurance as a religious freedom issue, and playing games with gestation dates, transvaginal ultrasounds and how many times and in what tone a representative might say vagina, our President has actually been getting to work. Barack Obama has taken a step above and beyond the women of America and recognized that the human rights abuses that women suffer on a global scale, simply for being born female, must stop now.

I can only imagine what it might be like, for the little girl born today who will not have a circumcision, or who will not be sold to sexual slavery because of this order. I wonder what her name is. I wonder what country she’ll be born into. I wonder what great thing she might contribute, and if it might be something that reaches and betters the whole world – like this order will.

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