People living through humanitarian crises, especially women and girls, face an increased risk of gender-based violence. An estimated 1 in 5 refugee or displaced women in humanitarian emergencies have experienced sexual violence. And gender-based violence is on the rise in many countries as communities around the world are forced to stay at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More must be done to prevent and address these abuses. Gender-based violence is not only an assault on human dignity, it also undermines development, security, and human rights.
Despite recognition of the negative impacts of gender-based violence in crises, humanitarian responses often do not address the unique risks facing women and girls. In fact, less than one percent of global humanitarian funding is spent on gender-based violence prevention and response.
The passage of the Safe from the Start Act will be an important step to change this dangerous tide. By formalizing and expanding Safe from the Start, a State Department and USAID program, the act prioritizes prevention and protection from gender-based violence. The legislation will ensure appropriate services for girls and women exposed to gender-based violence during crises, tools and structures for efficiency and accountability of responses, financial and institutional support for female-led Civil Society Organizations, and prioritization of local prevention and response efforts.
Please urge your Members of Congress to pass the bipartisan Safe from the Start Act (H.R. 4092) and the Keeping Women and Girls Safe from the Start Act (S. 4003) which will ensure that the U.S. government’s humanitarian assistance is more effective at preventing and responding to gender-based violence in crises.