For 20 years, Vital Voices has known what has now become a universal truth: when you invest in women, you improve the world. We were deeply concerned to read the reporting in Foreign Policy magazine about the administration’s proposed budget. The cuts listed included devastating reductions in the very investments that keep women and girls safe, advance economic prosperity and ultimately, increase our own national security.
Among the proposed cuts reported for the President’s FY 2018 Budget Request are reductions to missions, bureaus and programming that provide critical interventions to end violence against women around the world. Curbing the tide of this epidemic – which affects an estimated 1 in 3 women globally – is not just a human rights issue, it’s an economic issue. UN research indicates that the cost of violence against women could amount to approximately 2% of global GDP, which is equivalent to 1.5 trillion dollars or the size of Canada’s economy.
The budget also points to the elimination of all programming funds from the Global Women’s Issues (GWI) Office. Vital Voices Global Partnership was born from this office, and grew thanks to bipartisan support and belief in the power of women’s leadership. Decades of experts, politicians, business women, NGOs and service providers – on both sides of the aisle – have all come to agree that investments in women and girls worldwide are not just core to our nation’s values, but are critical to the prosperity of our children’s future. When women lead, democracies thrive. When girls are educated, generations flourish. When violence against women ends, peace prevails.
Vital Voices urges Congress to protect the foreign assistance dollars – less than one percent of the overall budget – that strengthens America’s leadership and transforms millions of lives around the world.