Protecting women & girls is on U.S. President Obama's agenda

Ruth Messinger – WNN SOAPBOX

U.S. President Obama signs memorandum for the creation of a stop women violence taskforce
United States President Obama signed a memorandum on January 22, 2014 that created a taskforce to combat sexual assaults inside the U.S. The President’s order gives the taskforce 90 days to draw up recommendations on how to deal with sexual assaults on U.S. college campuses, both in terms of response and prevention. Image: AURN

(WNN) New York, New York, UNITED STATES, AMERICAS: Ruth Messinger, president of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), praised the Obama Administration today for its recently announced efforts to combat sexual assault on American college campuses and called for a continued focus on ending violence against women and girls worldwide. AJWS is one of the leading Jewish international development and human rights organizations.

“I applaud President Obama for taking a stand against violence against women on our college campuses and for his administration’s efforts on behalf of women and girls around the world,” said Messinger. “In our nation, one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college- a disturbing and intolerable fact. Globally, one in three women is abused, beaten or raped during her lifetime. This assault on women knows no national boundaries, affecting women and girls of all races, religions and backgrounds, in numbers that are staggering.

“We cannot stand idly by as mere witnesses to this widespread violence. Our government has made great strides in protecting women and girls in this country from violence, as evidenced by the passage of the domestic Violence Against Women Act last year. Now, Congress needs to address these issues on an international level through the swift passage of the International Violence Against Women Act.

“I applaud Representatives Schakowsky, Lowey, Wasserman Schultz, Engel, Gibson and Hanna for introducing this important bipartisan piece of legislation. We urge Congress to make passage of IVAWA a top priority to ensure that that our government does all it can so that every girl and woman can live free of violence and fear,” said Messinger.

Last month, AJWS launched a new national advocacy campaign, We Believe, calling on the U.S. government to do all it can to help end violence against women and girls; stop hate crimes against LGBT people; and empower girls to end child marriage. The first initiative of AJWS’s new campaign is to work for the passage of IVAWA, which was reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last year. As the law of the land, IVAWA would, for the first time, codify a comprehensive approach by the U.S. to fight violence against women and girls internationally.

Specifically, if passed, I-VAWA would:

  • Direct the U.S. government to implement its strategy to reduce violence against women and girls in at least five countries
  • Make ending violence against women and girls a top diplomatic priority, and make the Office of Global Women’s Issues in the State Department permanent
  • Promote legal protection for women and girls who survive violence
  • Increase the capacity of the development sector worldwide to address violence against women and girls by integrating such care into existing health, education and economic programs
  • Promote public awareness campaigns to change the attitudes that perpetuate violence against women and girls
  • Support programs to reduce women and girls’ vulnerability to violence by improving their economic status and education opportunities


Ruth W. Messinger is the President of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), that works today to end poverty and realize human rights in the developing world. After a 20-year career in public service in New York City, Messinger served for 12 years in the U.S. on the New York City Council and eight as Manhattan borough president. She joined AJWS in 1998 to continue her lifelong pursuit of social justice, helping people around the world improve the quality of their lives and their communities. Considered a U.S. national leader in the movement to end the genocide in Sudan, Ruth has been called upon several times to advise President Obama about creating a sustainable path toward peace in that country. In recognition of her leadership, she has served on the Obama administration’s Task Force on Global Poverty and Development and currently sits on the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group and Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society.