• Women march during a protest calling for an end to violence against women in Afghanistan and around the world, in Kabul on February 14, 2013. (Shah Marai/AFP/Getty)


    Building Peace Through Women

    Women, Peace, and Security Act reintroduced.

    Is peace more attainable when women are part of the process? The representatives who recently reintroduced the Women, Peace, and Security Act are willing to bet on it. Reintroduced by Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Mike Honda, and Niki Tsongas on July 31, the bill encourages women around the world to be part of building peace in conflict areas—and to do so fairly, safely, and equally. When legislators draft conflict-prevention strategies, the act would require women’s interests to be integrated into the proposals and for them to have access to aid and funds. Amnesty International’s Julia Drost thinks the act is key for Afghan women, especially as the country has witnessed recent efforts to undermine women’s rights. “Women are powerful peace-builders whose efforts to prevent conflict and secure peace are critical, yet they remain largely under-utilized as they are excluded time and time again from peace processes around the world,” she writes.

  • A mural with Arabic that reads "no harassment," is seen on a wall in Cairo, Egypt, May 24, 2013. Besides the daily experience of harassment on the streets of Egypt, sexual assaults at anti-government protests, where women have been groped, stripped and even raped, have risen both in number and intensity during the past year of continued unrest in Egypt. (Hassan Ammar/AP)

    Legislative Insanity

    Protecting Our Sisters In Tahrir

    Why does Congress keep quashing the International Violence Against Women Act?

    You’ve seen the statistics—and they’re terrifying.

    Thirty-five percent of women worldwide will experience some form of physical or sexual violence, according to a World Health Organization study released last month.

  • Mark Wilson/Getty, Mark Wilson


    House to Consider Sweeping Abortion Bill

    Ban on abortions after 20 weeks likely to pass.

    The Republican-led House of Representatives could kick-start a major challenge against Roe v. Wade on Tuesday, as it considers the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, banning almost all abortions after 20 weeks. Though the House is slated to pass the bill, which the National Right to Life Committee’s legislative director called the “most significant piece of legislation to come before the House since the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act”—President Obama has already threatened to veto it, though the Senate doesn’t even have plans to consider it. Still, eleven states have passed similar laws.

    Read it at Associated Press
  • House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks about the re-introduction of the Violence Against Women Act during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol January 23, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty, Win McNamee)

    Fighting Words

    Dems, GOP at It (Again!) on VAWA

    You’d think, writes Michelle Cottle, that Congress at least could agree on violence against women. Think again.

    Much of the Beltway was still nursing an inaugural hangover when lawmakers gently but firmly waded back into the so-called war on women. Last Tuesday, Democrat Patrick Leahy and Republican Mike Crapo announced legislation aimed at reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. The following day, House Democratic leaders followed suit, hosting a press conference to tout an identical bill by Wisconsin Rep. Gwen Moore—and, while they were at it, smack their Republican colleagues for failing to re-up the bill last year. As Nancy Pelosi was happy to remind voters, “House Republicans refused to bring the Senate's bipartisan bill to the floor, leaving millions without a critical line of defense against domestic violence.”

    Her challenge was the latest volley in a battle begun during the superheated election cycle. First passed in 1994—with then-senator Joe Biden riding point—VAWA was reauthorized twice without drama. It was considered a no-brainer vote, a way for members of both parties to join hands and express their opposition to, well, violence against women. But last April, when the Senate handed its reauthorization bill off to the House, Republican members balked at three new provisions: one expanded protections for gays and lesbians, another did the same for Native Americans, and a third covered undocumented immigrants. Citing various objections to the expansions, House conservatives promptly countered with a pared-down bill that stripped out all three. The resulting uproar was less a legislative debate than a public cage match, with Democratic congresswomen leading the charge. “As chilling and callous as anything I’ve ever seen come before this Congress in modern times,” declared Rep. Carolyn Maloney at a May presser, while Rep. Judy Chu declared the House version the “Open Season on Violence Against Women Act.” Lickety split, what was once a circle-up-and-sing-“Kumbaya” issue became an election-year football, with both teams shrieking that the opposition was trying to score partisan points on the backs of battered women.