Back in March I had the awesome opportunity to cover International Women’s Day and if you ladies remembered, the cause of the day, as well as that whole week was stopping violence against women. The Avon Foundation, the Vital Voices Global Partnership, as well as the US State Department played a huge role in the success of the events and I had the opportunity to interview three women active in supporting this cause 365 days a year – Cindy Dyer from Vital Voices, Carol Kurzig from the Avon Foundation, and Dr. Berna Eren from the Human Resource Development Foundation in Turkey. I first asked each of them to talk a little about their roles in their organization and their opinions on the progress that has been made in the fight to end violence against women. Their answers were so remarkable and so full of great information, I had to divide this story up into three parts! (so make sure you stayed tuned by subscribing so you won’t miss a thing!)
Cindy Dyer – Senior Director for Human Rights Programs at Vital Voices Global Partnership
Cindy Dyer joined Vital Voices Global Partnership as Senior Director for Human Rights Programs in January 2009. Prior to her current position, Cindy Dyer served as the Director of the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, a position she was nominated for by President George W. Bush.
1. How does your role as a Senior Director of Vital Voices differ from that of a Director of the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women? In some ways my role is similar and in some ways it is different. Both positions allowed me the privilege of working with amazing women and men who are collaborating to end violence against women. Additionally, both positions allowed me to use my experience as a specialized violence against women prosecutor to help other communities keep victims safe and hold offenders accountable. The main difference is that at the Department of Justice of worked primarily with communities in the United States; while at Vital Voices, I am working with communities in other parts of the world. As part of our global work, Vital Voices recently partnered with Avon to announce The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women. This innovative collaboration with the U.S. State Department combats the most destructive types of violence against women and helps ensure justice for women and girls worldwide. As part of the Global Partnership, Avon and the Avon Foundation for Women announced $1.2 million in donations to Vital Voices and brought together 15 country delegations consisting of leaders from diverse sectors in a first-of-its-kind global forum to share insights, forge collaborations, and seek ways to overcome challenging cultural realities that have been barriers to progress. Currently, Vital Voices and the Avon Foundation for Women are supporting these delegations since they returned to their home countries with regional programs and a toolkit that can be used on a year-long basis as action plans are implemented.
2. What progress has been made here at home as well as abroad since your involvement in this cause and what changes still need to be made? How does Vital Voices plan to help in bringing about these changes? The changes that have occurred in the United Stated since the passage of the first Violence Against Women Act in 1994 have been remarkable. Over the 16 since years since that Act passed, there are more services available to victims, there are more successful investigations and prosecutions of perpetrators, there is more awareness about the problem of violence against women and the help that is available, and there is greater intolerance for this crime in society as a whole. Vital Voices is taking the lessons learned from the United States; from the shelter movement of the 1970’s, the Violence Against Women Act successes of the 1990’s, and the response to modern day slavery and human trafficking from the 2000’s; and combining them with other best practices from around the world, to help communities create coordinated community responses and effective public private partnerships that will create a safer world for our mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. As I mentioned previously, our recent Global Partnership between Avon, the Avon Foundation for Women and Vital Voices is working to find stainable solutions to end the world’s worst forms of violence against women including sexual violence, domestic violence and human trafficking.
Photo courtesy of: Avon