August 20, 2012
The founding director of the GW Global Women’s Institute contributed to a White House discussion on ending global violence against women.
Mary Ellsberg, founding director of the Global Women’s Institute at George Washington University, participated in a discussion earlier this month at the White House to mark the release of an executive order outlining for the first time the United States’ strategy for preventing and responding to gender-based violence around the world.
Issued by President Barack Obama prior to the panel, the executive order calls for increased coordination among government agencies and stakeholders, improved data collection, integration of gender-based violence prevention and responses in existing government work and enhanced programming about gender-based violence. Titled the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally, the order also created an interagency working group to be co-chaired by the secretary of state and the administrator of USAID.
“The U.S .Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally was developed in close collaboration with civil society organizations,” said Dr. Ellsberg. “I was very honored to represent the contribution of these organizations on the White House panel, together with [co-founder and president of Women Thrive Worldwide] Ritu Sharma.”
Other panelists included Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues at the U.S. Department of State; and Donald Steinberg, deputy administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development. Speakers included Cathy Russell, deputy assistant to the president and chief of staff to Jill Biden; Lynn Rosenthal, White House adviser on violence against women; and Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to the president and chair of the Council on Women and Girls.
Dr. Ellsberg was hired in May to lead the Global Women’s Institute, which will launch this fall. She has more than 30 years of experience in international gender and development research and program work.
“The new strategy and its emphasis on research and data collection will be critical in addressing gender-based violence worldwide,” said Dr. Ellsberg. “Without more evidence on what works to prevent and respond to violence against women, it will be difficult to persuade governments and donors to invest more in scaling-up programs.”
According to the World Health Organization’s Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women, co-authored by Dr. Ellsberg, an estimated one in three women worldwide has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.