By: Rosie Hidalgo, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor on Gender-Based Violence, Gender Policy Council
When President Biden declared October 2021 Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, he recognized “the important roles of the public and private sectors, nonprofits, communities and individuals in helping to prevent and address against domestic violence and create a culture that refuses to tolerate abuse. Advancing efforts to address and prevent domestic violence has been a cornerstone of President Biden’s career as a public servant, including his authorship of the original Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and his leadership in advancing subsequent VAWA reauthorizations to continue to expand access to safety and services for all survivors. The Biden-Harris administration has focused its efforts to end gender-based violence as one of the ten key strategic priorities to advance gender equity and equality through a whole-of-government approach, both at the national level and global, through the National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, which was released earlier this month. The Strategy also stresses the importance of adopting an intersectional approach that recognizes overlapping experiences on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age and others. factors.
As the Administration advances this holistic approach project, it is also taking steps to address the immediate needs of survivors and service providers. The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled a health and economic crisis, which has exacerbated a “phantom pandemic” of gender-based violence in the United States and around the world. Through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) legislation, the Biden-Harris administration has invested nearly $ 1 billion to provide additional funding to domestic violence and sexual assault service providers through the Family Violence Prevention and Services (FVPS) division of the Department of Health and Humanity. Services (HHS). It also includes a historic investment to support community organizations that offer culturally specific support to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, and in conjunction with releasing additional ARP funds, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, Acting Assistant Secretary of Administration for Children and Families JooYeun Chang, FVPS Director Shawndell Dawson and I visited a domestic violence service provider in Washington, DC. It was an opportunity to hear advocates talk about their efforts to support survivors during the pandemic and provide holistic trauma-informed services. And it was an important opportunity to recognize and honor the dedication and life-saving work of advocates here and across the country.
As we move towards a more comprehensive and holistic strategy to address and prevent gender-based violence, we have embarked on the development of our country’s first-ever national action plan to end gender-based violence. This is a mandate from the Executive Order that created the White House Gender Policy Council and it is a model that has been adopted by countries around the world. This process is underway with input from all federal agencies, as well as extensive consultation with stakeholders. To date, the Gender Policy Council has organized listening sessions with more than 2,000 participants, including a meeting with youth advocates who offered targeted recommendations to advance the administration’s work to tackle the problem. online harassment and abuse. In addition, the executive order calls for an update of the US strategy to prevent and respond to gender-based violence around the world. As we work to advance these efforts nationally and internationally, we do so with the goal of better integrating these commitments into a solid plan of action.
In addition, we continued our efforts to renew and strengthen existing legislation to support survivors. This included legislation to strengthen the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), which President Biden enacted in July. Among other things, it demands that funds raised by the federal government under postponement and non-prosecution agreements be deposited into the Crime Victims Fund, which has already resulted in more than $ 200 million. dollars of additional deposits in September. In addition, the administration supports efforts to renew and strengthen VAWA, which was passed by the House with bipartisan support in March. Earlier this month, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the re-authorization of VAWA as part of efforts to advance bipartisan legislation. The administration also strongly supports the reauthorization of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, which was recently passed by the House with bipartisan support. This legislation will increase investment in domestic violence prevention efforts and strengthen existing services, while expanding access to resources and services to tribes and tribal coalitions, culturally specific programs and other communities. underserved.
As President Biden said in his proclamation marking National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, “Honor the immense dedication of advocates and service providers, honor the courage and resilience of survivors, and renew our commitment to support them for their safety, dignity and justice. There is still a lot of work to be done, and it will take all of us to do it. We must rededicate ourselves to creating a society where domestic violence is not tolerated, where survivors are supported, and where all have the opportunity to thrive without fear of violence or abuse.