United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman and Mallika Dutt, anti-violence group Breakthrough’s Executive Director, supported the call for a comprehensive approach by the United States to address ending violence against women yesterday.
Kidman and Dutt, speaking to members of the U.S. House of Representatives Sub-Committee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight, emphasized the urgency to invest in women, partner locally and provide resources for effective programs in developing countries.
They joined Ambassador for Women’s Global Issues Melanne Verveer, Congresswoman Janice D. Schakowsky, Vice-Chair of the Women’s Caucus, and former Congresswoman and President of Shared Hope International Linda Smith in supporting the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA), which represents an unprecedented commitment by the U.S. government to create a comprehensive strategy to reduce violence in countries that have severe levels of violence against women and girls.
Today’s hearing provided Kidman an opportunity to amplify the voices of the women she has met through her work with UNIFEM and share their stories. Speaking of women survivors of violence from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kosovo by whom she was inspired, Ms. Kidman observed: “These champions need and deserve our support. Not with a box of band-aids, but with a comprehensive, well-funded approach that acknowledges that women’s rights are human rights. It is time for policies that intentionally involve society’s key communities — from health and education departments to the police and judiciary — to deliver on that commitment. To succeed, it requires political will at the highest levels.”
Breakthrough’s Executive Director Mallika Dutt spoke about her organization’s multimedia campaign in India that mobilizes women to take a stand and engages men in addressing violence against women. The campaign was supported by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, which is managed by UNIFEM.
“In villages and towns in every corner of the world, women are challenging social and cultural norms and laws that made them second-class citizens,” Dutt said. “Through strong leadership and local partnerships across a range of actors, the International Violence Against Women Act could have a direct and immediate impact on saving the lives of millions of women and girls.”
Goodwill Ambassador Kidman will continue to shine a light on ending violence against women solutions and stories during her upcoming field mission to Kenya, where UNIFEM will launch its global advocacy action initiative Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women. The innovative web platform is a call for action, which will spotlight efforts on the ground and is designed to contribute towards the high-profile UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s multi-year campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women.