Zonta International is a global organization of women and men dedicated to empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy. The Zonta USA Advocacy Action Center is a tool for our members in the United States and other individuals who share our commitment to gender equality to take action to improve the lives of women and girls. With your help, we can make a difference. In addition to the actions below, click here to support our joint efforts with UNICEF USA to end child marriage in the United States.
Gender-based violence continues to be a widespread problem in the United States with devastating consequences. In the U.S., one in three girls is a victim of physical, verbal or emotional abuse, one in four women will experience domestic violence, and more than three women are murdered by their partners every day.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) first became law in 1994, creating a system for enforcement of gender-based violence (GBV) for the first time and funding essential social services for survivors.
The VAWA was the first federal policy that built a framework to address different types of GBV, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.
Each time the VAWA has been reauthorized—in 2000, 2005 and 2013—lawmakers have included new provisions determined by the latest research and best practices. More than 25 years after the law was first enacted, lawmakers must continue to build on the momentum and further improve the government’s response to gender-based violence.
The VAWA expired in February 2019. In April 2019, the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 1585). Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] introduced S. 2843 in the Senate in November 2019. The bill:
- Reauthorizes and updates the SMART Prevention Program to reduce dating violence, help children who have been exposed to violence and engage men in preventing violence.
- Expands grants to support implementation of training programs to improve the capacity of early childhood programs to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking among the families they serve.
- Provides services, protection and justice for young victims of violence, including extending the Rape Prevention and Education grant program, addressing bullying of young people, improving grants focused on prevention education for students and expanding relevant training for school-based and campus health centers.
- Preserves and expands housing protections for survivors.
- Helps prevent “intimate partner” homicides by including provisions expanding firearms laws to prohibit persons convicted of dating violence and misdemeanor stalking from possessing firearms and prohibiting individuals subject to ex parte protective orders from possessing firearms.
- Protects Native American women by improving tribal access to federal crime information databases and reaffirming tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian perpetrators of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking for all federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaskan Natives.
- Explicitly states that grant recipients are allowed to train staff and others on identifying and stopping discrimination against LGBT individuals. Service providers currently remain uncertain about whether they can use grants to train for this.
Contact your senators today and urge them to pass S. 2843 and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.