Earlier this year, we called on you to take action in support of the Safe from the Start Act (H.R. 4092). A similar bill has now been introduced in the Senate. Like H.R. 4092, the Keeping Women and Girls Safe from the Start Act of 2020 (S. 4003) expands the ability of the U.S. government to prevent gender-based violence and provide early interventions at the onset of humanitarian emergencies. By codifying the existing Safe from the Start initiative currently administered by the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Aid (USAID), the Keeping Women and Girls Safe from the Start Act will integrate important interventions to mitigate risks for gender-based violence in all humanitarian sectors and strengthen staff training. In addition, this legislation will enhance partnerships with local organizations to increase capacity, update objectives for protection and empowerment of women and girls, and institute congressional reporting requirements to ensure progress and accountability.Globally, an estimated one in three women have experienced physical, sexual or psychological abuse in their lifetime. Gender-based violence increases during conflict and humanitarian crises. For example, the United Nations reports that one in five refugees or internally displaced women living in humanitarian crisis have experienced sexual abuse. In conflict situations gender-based violence is sometimes used as a weapon of war. For a long time, the international community failed to effectively prevent and respond to gender-based violence at the onset of humanitarian emergencies. Initiatives such as Safe from the Start and the Global Call to Action on Protection from Gender-based Violence in Emergencies have moved this issue at the forefront of humanitarian work. It is crucial to ensure this transformation work continues. The ELCA social message on gender-based violence notes: “People continue to be harmed. Gender-based violence is a global evil that marks millions of lives.” God continues to call us to engage in efforts to end gender-based violence in our churches and communities—both here at home and abroad. In the social statement Faith, Sexism, and Justice: A Call to Action, the ELCA commits itself to "advocate for and support laws, policies, and practices that respect diverse bodies rather than discriminating against, objectifying, or devaluing them. Women, girls, and people who identify as non-binary must not be deprived of their human or civil rights."Personalize the message below to be heard. Please urge your senators to co-sponsor the Keeping Women and Girls Safe from the Start Act of 2020 (S. 4003). Your words reflecting your faith-based convictions and experience can make a difference.
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Dear [Decision Maker],
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