GFWC Priority Issues
GFWC is working through its grassroots network of advocates to support legislation that is crucial to the mission of the Federation. The following issues are current topics that GFWC advocates are focusing on. We will keep you posted as bills are dropped in both houses of Congress. As always, all GFWC priority issues must be covered by an official GFWC Resolution.
Violence Against Women Act
Critical legislation related to serving and protecting domestic violence victims includes the Violence Against Women Act, which was signed into law in August of 1994 as a part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (PL-103-322).
VAWA has the following goals:
- Enhance judicial and law enforcement tools to combat violence against women.
- Improve services, protection, and justice for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
- Strengthen America’s families by preventing violence.
- Reinforce the healthcare system’s response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
- Offer housing opportunities and safety for battered women, teens, and children.
- Provide economic security for victims.
- Protect battered and trafficked immigrants.
VAWA was reauthorized by Congress in 2000, and again in October 2005, when it passed the Senate unanimously. The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush on January 5, 2006. Legislation to reauthorize VAWA was introduced in November 2011 and includes the following additions:
- Increased monitoring by states and local communities to provide earlier intervention for survivors and potential victims.
- Improved law enforcement response to sexual assaults to build stronger legal cases and direct victims to services.
- Targeted prevention programs for young people through joint efforts by schools, youth organizations, and domestic violence agencies.
Stop Abuse for Every Teen (SAFE) Teen Act
U.S. Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI), and Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA) recently introduced the Stop Abuse for Every Teen (SAFE Teen) Act. This important, bipartisan legislation recognizes the severity of teen dating violence throughout the country and allows schools to use existing federal funding for prevention and education. This bill does not call for monetary or budgetary considerations.
According to reports, one in four adolescents reports emotional, physical, or sexual violence while each year while one in 10 adolescents reports being a victim of physical dating violence. Teen victims of dating violence suffer long-term negative health consequences and show poor student achievement.
“Dating violence prevention programs in middle and high schools will educate people to engage in healthy relationships,” says International President Carlene A. Garner. “I urge each GFWC member to contact her senator and representative in supporting this vital bipartisan legislation.”
If passed into law, this bill would:
- Expressly authorize schools to use existing grant funding for teen dating violence prevention;
- Highlight teen dating violence prevention as part of the comprehensive, community prevention program, Safe Schools, Healthy Students, that already funds prevention activities;
- Support better teen dating violence data to understand the scope of the problem;
- Support promising practices to further replicate, refine, and test prevention models.
View sample e-mail text for contacting your legislator.
Equal Rights Amendment, H.J. Res. 40 (110)
In brief: a bipartisan resolution proposing an Amendment to the Constution of the United States relative to equal rights for men and women. The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was first proposed in 1923 and re-written by Alice Paul in 1943. Her amended language is still used today:
"Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."
GFWC has supported the ERA since 1944.
Status and details | Complete history