Global leaders and diplomats routinely visit the State Department — but today Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns announced that they were welcoming both “a global ambassador and a musical duchess” as pop star Fergie spoke about efforts to combat violence against women.
The singer, who traded in her edgy rock star attire for a conservative tailored black pin-striped suit, announced a new program to help achieve justice for victims of sexual and domestic violence around the world.
“The statistics shock me,” she said, citing that one in three women will be a victim of domestic violence. “That is totally unacceptable.”
The new initiative — called the Justice Institute on Gender-Based Violence — will focus on helping countries to apply assault and abuse laws already on the books.
“A common barrier is that existing laws are just not understood or enforced,” she said. “There are laws to protect women and publish their abusers in many countries, but they aren’t applied effectively and consistently.”
Institutes will be launched in India, Nepal, South Africa and Mexico that will focus on training advocacy groups, law enforcement, judges and others to produce a “more holistic” response for crimes against women. The programs will serve as models for other countries in the future.
The program is a partnership between Avon, the company she is a spokeswoman for, the State Department and the advocacy group Global Voices.
“I’m inspired by terrific programs we’ve heard about today” she said. “And I’m also very hopeful that because of the great work that all of you are doing every day that we’ll be able to create a world free of gender violence.”
— Fergie (@Fergie) March 20, 2014