The objectives of Obama’s executive order are fourfold:
1. To increase coordination of gender-based violence prevention and response efforts among United States Government agencies and with other stakeholders;
2. To enhance integration of gender-based violence prevention and response efforts into existing United States Government work;
3. To improve collection, analysis, and use of data and research to enhance gender-based violence prevention, and response efforts; and,
4. To enhance and expand United States Government programming that addresses gender-based violence.
Essentially, the order calls for the assembly of a team of representatives from a number of U.S. government agencies under the leadership of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. They will then be responsible for implementing and revising a wide-ranging strategy, which includes government-supported programs, extensive research, and data analysis.
“Any time a country like the United States takes a stand for women, it sends that message around the world and begins to shift culture,” Nelson explained. “This is the first government-wide effort of its kind to address the epidemic of violence against women. It is path-breaking in scope—it is far reaching in terms of coordination among agencies, encompassing security, education, and social, economic, and humanitarian issues.”
Though the executive order is a huge step forward, it isn’t the only step Obama and Vice President Biden have taken to protect women and girls. For example, just last December, Obama spearheaded the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. In 1994, then-Senator Biden drafted the Violence Against Women Act.
As Nelson points out, the protection of girls and women should never be a partisan issue. “Regardless of who wins the 2012 elections, violence against girls and women is an issue every lawmaker should care about,” she noted. “We will be watching the implementation of this order very closely.”
The atrocities committed against Sahar Gul and millions of girls like her don’t have to be a reality. But it is up to us right now to make a better future possible for the young women of tomorrow. Are you ready to do your part?
Diana Denza is a regular contributor to BettyConfidential.