To the Editor:

When I began serving in the United States Senate, there were only nine female senators at the time. Today, there are a record number of women – 20 in all – serving together in the Senate. While much progress remains to be made, we have witnessed great strides in the advancement of women in our own country and most of the developed world over the past century.

Across vast swaths of the globe, however, the opportunities for women to advance in society are far fewer. Instead of having political, academic, or economic opportunities, they are faced with violence, forced marriages, and human rights abuses. In fact, one out of three women worldwide will be physically, sexually or otherwise abused during her lifetime, with rates reaching 70 percent in some countries. This kind of abhorrent violence ranges from domestic violence to rape and acid burnings to dowry deaths and so-called “honor killings.”

Combatting this type of oppression against women and increasing their opportunities abroad has been a long-standing priority of mine. This year, I joined Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in introducing the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA), which ensures that the U.S. will take a leadership role in combating these problems.  This bill would establish that it is the policy of the United States to take action to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls around the globe and to coordinate efforts to address gender-based violence into U.S. foreign policy and foreign assistance programs.

I have seen first-hand the positive effects of greater political involvement on the part of women here in the United States, and I believe our nation can and must continue its leadership role in empowering women worldwide. In doing so, we will not only improve the lives of untold millions, but we will also create a more secure world for ourselves and future generations.

Senator Susan Collins

Washington, D.C.

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