WASHINGTON, DC October 21, 2009 – At a hearing on International Violence against Women held on Capitol Hill last month, Melanne Verveer, US Ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues, and several other witnesses, presented their accounts of violence against women to US Representatives and observers.

Ambassador Verveer at the hearing.  To watch the full hearing, click hereIn her testimony Ambassador Verveer told representatives that violence against women is “one of the most serious challenges of our time” and cannot be treated “solely as a women’s issue.”  Verveer also raised the issue of violence against women as a global security issue, saying:

Around the world, the places that are the most dangerous for women also pose the greatest threats to international peace and security… The correlation is clear: where women are oppressed, governance is weak and terrorists are more likely to take hold.

Turning the focus to solutions, Ambassador Verveer highlighted the Tostan model as an example of positive change for thousands of women in West and East Africa. She described how Tostan enables communities to work together to identify problems in their community and then mobilize to address them, recounting the story of a community in Somalia that, with Tostan’s support, had abandoned female genital cutting to secure the health and well-being of their girls.

“… [with Tostan’s support] both men and women, at the village level, work together to become aware of the harmful effect [of Female Genital Cutting] and then take action to end it and to ensure the health and well-being of the girls and their villages,” Ambassador Verveer explained.

Other advocates for Women’s Rights, including the Honorable Janice D. Schakowsky, Mallika Dutt, Founder and Director of Breakthrough, and UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador, Nicole Kidman, took turns highlighting the importance of addressing the issue of violence against women on an international scale, and also of identifying and implementing solutions to it.   

You can listen to the full hearing, including accounts from Ambassador Verveer, US Representative Janice Schakowsky, and UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman by clicking here, or visiting the US House committee on Foreign Affairs website .