VITAL VOICES AND AVON ANNOUNCE INNOVATIVE PARTNERSHIP TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN WORLDWIDE
Initiative Includes $1.2 Million in Donations from the Avon Foundation for Women and Avon Products, Inc. to Fund Bold New Programs that Seek Sustainable Solutions to End World's Worst Forms of Violence: Sexual Violence, Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking
Washington, DC (March 10, 2010) /PRNewswire/ — Vital Voices (www.vitalvoices.org) and The Avon Foundation for Women (www.avonfoundation.org) today announced The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women, a new innovative collaboration with the U.S. State Department to combat the most destructive types of violence against women and help ensure justice for women and girls worldwide. In response to the nearly one billion women worldwide who will be affected by violence in their lifetime, The Global Partnership will address the need for serious, sustained on the ground research and development, as well as actionable, collaborative, 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 – business, government, law enforcement, the NGO community, media/entertainment, academia and others – 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. Vital Voices and the Avon Foundation for Women will also support these delegations when they return to their home countries with regional programs and a toolkit that can be used on a year-long basis as action plans are implemented.
Alyse Nelson, President of Vital Voices says the issue of violence against women has been ignored for too long. "While one in three women will be the victim of abuse or violence at some point in their lives, not nearly enough attention has been given to this global crisis," she said. "Around the world, services for victims are often vastly underfunded or unavailable and in many countries, laws to protect women do not exist or are not understood nor enforced. The economic cost of domestic violence, sexual violence and human trafficking together is estimated to be in the trillions of dollars. 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."
Andrea Jung, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Avon Products Inc., commented: "It is more urgent than ever to confront this growing global challenge," she said. "With over six 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. Given our close personal connections with women, we feel it is our obligation and responsibility, and that we are uniquely suited, to be a committed partner in the search for innovative solutions that truly make a difference to ending the epidemic of violence against women in our lifetime."
The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women is founded on the premise that local experts are best suited to know what solutions will work in their own communities. Cindy Dyer, Vital Voices' Senior Director for Human Rights says: "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. The goal of The Global Partnership is to support these local teams with information, resources and funding. This will be an ongoing effort, local implementation supported by global collaboration and sharing of best practices as we work to create a safer world for women and girls."
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, today 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 is launched as a companion piece to the Women's Empowerment Bracelet and the Women's Empowerment Necklace, launched in 2008 and 2009 respectively, which together have raised $8 million globally. The Women's Empowerment Ring, accessibly priced at $5.00, will be sold through Avon Representatives in over 45 countries and on www.avon.com, with 100% of net profits ( $3.80 for each ring sold) going to support domestic violence programs. In the US, 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."
This year, Vital Voices will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of its creation following the Beijing Women's Conference where then-First Lady Hillary Clinton equated women's rights to human rights. Since then, it has developed programs to help provide safety and justice for women in more than 50 countries nationwide. The Avon Foundation for Women launched Speak Out Against Domestic Violence in 2004 to provide funding to domestic violence organizations for awareness, education, prevention programs and direct services for victims. In a few short years, Avon global philanthropy has committed more than $16 million to end violence against women.
To get real time updates about The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women, visit the Avon online channels on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AvonProductsInc), Twitter (http://twitter.com/avonprnewsflash) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/avonproductsinc).
Vital Voices Global Partnership is a leading non-governmental organization (NGO) that identifies, trains and empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the globe, enabling them to create a better world for us all. Vital Voices provides these women with the capacity, connections and credibility they need to unlock their potential. The Vital Voices mission is to identify, invest in and bring visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities. The Vital Voices international staff and team of over 1000 partners, pro bono experts and leaders, including senior government, corporate and NGO executives, have trained and mentored more than 8,000 emerging women leaders from over 127 countries in Asia, Africa, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East since 1997. These women have returned home to train and mentor more than 500,000 additional women and girls in their communities.
Avon Products, Inc.
Avon (NYSE: AVP), the company for women, is a leading global beauty company, with over $10 billion in annual revenue. As the world's largest direct seller, Avon markets to women in more than 100 countries through approximately 6.2 million active independent Avon Sales Representatives. Avon's product line includes beauty products, as well as fashion and home products, and features such well-recognized brand names as Avon Color, Anew, Skin-So-Soft, Advance Techniques, Avon Naturals, and Mark. Learn more about Avon and its products at www.avoncompany.com.
Avon Foundation for Women
The Avon Foundation for Women is the world's largest corporate-affiliated philanthropy focused on women's issues. Since it was founded in 1955, the Avon Foundation has been committed to the mission to improve the lives of women and their families. Now past the half century milestone, the Avon Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity that today brings this mission to life through two key areas of focus: breast cancer and domestic violence. Through 2009, Avon global philanthropy has donated more than $725 million in over 50 countries for causes most important to women.