For Immediate Release

Office of Press Relations

Statement by Administrator Samantha Power

As we mark the annual global campaign of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, we celebrate this year’s theme, “UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls.” It brings together a slate of actors – governments, corporations, civil society organizations, the media, multilateral organizations, and individuals – to address gender-based violence through partnerships and cooperation.

That mission is more urgent than ever. According to the World Health Organization, approximately one out of every three women around the world has either suffered from an act of intimate partner violence, sexual violence from someone other than a partner, or both. Every year, 12 million girls are married as children. At least 200 million women and girls today have suffered from female genital mutilation and cutting. That’s in addition to the 375 recorded deaths of transgender individuals in 2021 alone – the highest count on record and widely believed to be a gross undercount. 

According to the UN, gender-based violence represents the most common violation of human rights around the world. As with other human rights abuses, gender-based violence slows economic growth, undermines national security, and constitutes a breach of that most sacred of moral contracts: that everyone has the right to feel safe and secure, to freely be their authentic selves, and to chart their own destinies. 

But while gender-based violence is pervasive, we at USAID fiercely believe that it is also preventable. That’s why we have long partnered with local leaders and organizations, survivors and community groups, women as well as men. We launched the Foundational Elements for Gender-Based Violence Programming in Development to help USAID staff and partners design and implement survivor-centered programs to combat gender-based violence in health systems, workplaces, and schools. We’re addressing violence against women and girls in conflict, crisis, and humanitarian situations – from funding mobile teams in Ukraine providing assistance to survivors displaced by Putin’s war to strengthening judicial systems in Central America to hold perpetrators accountable. And next month, we’re launching the next iteration of the Safe from the Start initiative, which expands protections like case management, psychosocial support, safe spaces, and peer networks for women and girls –including members of the LGBTQI+ community, persons with disabilities, indigenous populations, and other marginalized groups– in humanitarian emergencies.

This past year alone, USAID has provided gender-based violence prevention and response services to over five million people around the world. But we recognize that there is more work to be done, here at the Agency and beyond. We’re committed to building stronger, more diverse partnerships with organizations led by women and girls as well as those representing LGBTQI+ communities, Indigenous groups, and young people who are frequently the targets of gender-based violence. And we’re committed to engaging men and boys in our efforts by addressing social norms that normalize abusive behaviors and responding to the needs of male survivors.

Together, let’s commit to make the world a safer place for women and girls and others targeted on the basis of gender identity. We must continue finding ways to change social norms and to further prevent, mitigate, and respond to gender-based violence beyond these 16 Days.

Samantha Power
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