The United States Congress has shown a rare level of bipartisan support towards legislation that seeks to combat violence against women on a global scale.
Developed by members of Congress and nearly 150 NGO's, the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) will make addressing violence against women a "strategic foreign policy imperative," according to a statement from Mass. Senator John Kerry.
"Societies where women are safe, where women are empowered to realize their aspirations and move their communities forward-are healthier and more stable societies. This bill will protect women everywhere," Kerry said during the bill's introduction last Thursday.
Programs and solutions proposed by the IVAWA include promoting women's access to economic opportunity and education, investing in local women's groups, addressing violence against girls in humanitarian situations, encouraging legal accountability, and working to change public attitudes.
Twenty one members of the Senate are currently supporting the bill.
Actress Nicole Kidman, Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and spokesperson for Say NO, applauded the drafting of the IVAWA, saying that the legislation, "when passed, will be a beacon, lighting the way forward in other countries."
"I urge you to say NO to violence against women by supporting the IVAWA," she added.
Actress Reese Witherspoon, honorary chairwoman for the Avon Foundation for Women, urged "swift, bipartisan passage" of the IVAWA act, saying "nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of women and girls everywhere."
"The passage of IVAWA will . . . allow us to achieve our goal: to dramatically reduce violence against women and the damage it wreaks around the globe," she said.