One in three women will be the victim of abuse or violence at some point in their lives, says Alyse Nelson, president of Vital Voices, a leading NGO dedicated to nurturing and empowering women leaders around the world. In addition, “the economic cost of domestic violence, sexual violence and human trafficking together is estimated to be in the trillions of dollars.”
“It is more urgent than ever to confront this growing global challenge,” says Andrea Jung, chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Avon Products Inc. “With over 6 million Avon representatives in more than 100 countries, Avon is the largest engine of economic opportunity for women on earth. We have seen first hand that when a woman is empowered economically, she can escape an abusive situation.”
To that end, Vital Voices and The Avon Foundation for Women held a three-day launch last week in Washington D.C. to announce The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women, a new innovative collaboration with the U.S. State Department. In response to the nearly 1 billion women worldwide who will be affected by violence in their lifetime, The Global Partnership will address the need for sustained, on-the-ground research and development, as well as actionable, collaborative and culturally-sensitive local solutions that can change these statistics in a measurable way.
To facilitate the Global Partnership, Avon and the Avon Foundation for Women announced $1.2 million in donations to Vital Voices to bring together 15 country delegations consisting of leaders from diverse sectors ranging from business to media to academia, 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. “The hope is that by bringing delegates from around the world who are working on these issues in their countries and who understand the nuances of their unique communities, we’ll be able to develop and implement more sustainable programs to protect victims and prevent violence and trafficking from occurring in the first place,” says Cindy Dyer, Vital Voices’ senior director for human rights.
“Around the world, services for victims are often vastly underfunded or unavailable and in many countries, laws to protect women do not exist,” says Nelson. “It’s going to take real commitment and partnership within all countries to address their specific problems with culturally sensitive solutions that are truly sustainable over time.”
As part of Avon’s ongoing collaboration in support of this issue, Reese Witherspoon, the company’s global ambassador and honorary chairperson of the Avon Foundation for Women, announced a new Avon fundraising product — the Women’s Empowerment Ring — that the company anticipates will raise significant funds to support local country initiatives to end violence against women.
The Women’s Empowerment Ring ($5), launched as a companion piece to the Women’s Empowerment Bracelet and the Women’s Empowerment Necklace which together have raised $8 million globally, will be sold through Avon Representatives in more than 45 countries and on www.avon.com, with 100 percent of net profits ($3.80 for each ring sold) going to support domestic violence programs. In the U.S., every Women’s Empowerment product sold will include a free Domestic Violence Resource Guide to increase awareness, provide helpful information and resources, and encourage everyone to speak out to end this epidemic of violence against women.
“There is nothing more important for all of us than ensuring the safety of women and girls everywhere. The problem is so pervasive, it’s critical that we find ways to work together, as a global community, to combat it,” says Witherspoon. “I applaud this groundbreaking new partnership, and look forward to the innovative ideas and solutions it will produce.”
Buy the ring here.