Eqlima is a young girl from Afghanistan. She lived with an abusive father and stepmother who often beat her. They even set her hair on fire. She escaped to a U.S. State Department-supported women’s shelter. The staff helped move her away from her father and stepmother, and now is helping her move in with her older brother.
Stories like these are all too common. From beatings, to “honor” killings, to sexual violence as a tactic of war, from intimate partner violence to human trafficking– the forms of gender-based violence are varied, but their scope, and their impact are devastating. Globally, an estimated one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime.
When women and girls are denied the chance to fully contribute to society because of the violence or fear they face, our entire world suffers. That’s why President Obama has made the treatment of women an essential part of our global vision for democracy and human rights. A key part of that effort is stopping violence against women and girls.
Last December, President Obama released the first ever U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security and signed an Executive Order directing the Plan’s implementation. This action signaled a key commitment of the Obama Administration: to put gender equality and the advancement of women and girls at the forefront of our foreign policy.
Today, I am proud to announce that the President has taken another important step to prioritize and protect the rights of women and girls. President Obama issued an Executive Order on Preventing and Responding to Violence Against Women and Girls Globally. The Executive Order requires enhanced coordination of the United States’ efforts through the creation of an interagency working group, co-chaired by Secretary of State Clinton and USAID Administrator Shah, designed to leverage our country’s tremendous expertise and capacity to prevent and respond to gender-based violence globally as well as establish a coordinated, government-wide approach to address this terrible reality.