This year, as we again mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, we must also grapple with the hard truth that the COVID-19 pandemic has also created a “shadow pandemic” of violence. Around the world, including in the United States, reports of domestic violence have increased during the pandemic, exacerbating a deeply entrenched human rights crisis, and women in public life continue to experience threats, attacks, and fears of reprisal, both online and in daily life.
It’s estimated one in three women will be subjected to physical violence, rape, or stalking by a partner at some point in their lives. One in three. It’s unacceptable. And, as is so often the case, it is women and girls from underserved and historically marginalized communities—including persons of color, LGBTQI+ people, and individuals with disabilities—who are disproportionately impacted.
The status and treatment of women and girls and the peace and prosperity of nations are inextricably linked. Ending gender-based violence is not only a moral imperative, but a strategic imperative to realize the full and equal participation of all people as we meet the urgent global challenges of today.
Ending gender-based violence has been a policy priority for me for decades. From writing and championing the Violence Against Women Act nearly three decades ago, to establishing the Gender Policy Council at the White House and issuing the first National Strategy for Gender Equity and Equality, I have worked to help change the culture around domestic violence and sexual assault in the United States. As a nation, we must once again commit ourselves to preventing and responding to gender-based violence, wherever it occurs. And in the coming months, my Administration will issue the first National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, bringing a whole-of-government approach to supporting survivors, promoting prevention, and shifting norms. I am also directing the National Security Council to update our Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally using the full range of our foreign policy tools.
Eliminating violence against women is an enduring value and goal that we must prioritize in all that we do. Because it is only when women and girls are able to live free from the fear of abuse and violence that they will be able to unleash their full talents. Today, we all stand together to renew our commitments and redouble our efforts to prevent and address gender-based violence and create a culture that refuses to tolerate abuse in any form.