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On August 10, 2012, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order on Preventing and Responding to Violence Against Women and Girls Globally to advance the rights and status of women and girls, to promote gender equality in U.S. foreign policy, and to bring about a world in which all individuals can pursue their aspirations without the threat of violence.

Violence against women and girls cuts across ethnicity, race, class, religion, education level, and international borders. Although statistics on the prevalence of violence vary, the scale is tremendous, the scope is vast, and the consequences for individuals, families, communities, and countries are devastating.

An estimated one in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Intimate partner violence is the most common form of violence experienced by women globally. Other forms of violence include human trafficking and, sexual violence (including its use as a tactic of war), and harmful traditional practices, such as early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, and "honor" killings.

The Executive Order, establishes an Interagency Working Group to address gender-based violence, which will coordinate implementation of the Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally set forth in section 3 of the Order. This Strategy was developed by the executive departments and agencies that are members of the Working Group in accordance with the priorities of the Order. The Executive Order will ensure that agencies prioritize this issue in their implementation of U.S. foreign policy, and that work in this area is evaluated. Recognizing that this is a long-term commitment, the Order directs the interagency working group to update or revise the Strategy after three years.

The Strategy outlines a comprehensive, multi-sector approach to prevent and respond to gender-based violence through 4 key objectives:

  • Increased coordination of gender-based violence prevention and response efforts among United States Government agencies and with other stakeholders;
  • Enhanced integration of gender-based violence prevention and response efforts into existing United States Government work;
  • Improved collection, analysis, and use of data and research to enhance gender-based violence prevention and response efforts; and
  • Enhanced or expanded United States Government programming that addresses gender-based violence.

In addition to the Department of State and USAID, the working group will include representatives from other Departments including Treasury; Defense; Justice; Labor; Health and Human Services; Homeland Security; the Office of Management and Budget; the National Security Staff; the Office of the Vice President; Peace Corps; the Millennium Challenge Corporation; and the White House Council on Women and Girls, among others.

Here is the link to the executive order:

Here is a link to the full fact sheet: