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Avon, Vital Voices Global Partnership and the U.S. Department of State Launch the Justice Institute on Gender-based Violence in India

Avon, Vital Voices, and the U.S. Department of State launched the second Justice Institute on Gender-Based Violence in India.

Funded by the Avon Foundation for Women, the world’s largest corporate-affiliated philanthropy focused on causes that matter most to women, the Justice Institute is an innovative and interactive multidisciplinary training and technical assistance program that brings together judges, court officers, public prosecutors, police officers, representatives of government agencies and non-governmental service providers. The Institute seeks to improve victim protection efforts and criminal justice response to domestic violence in India by facilitating the creation of a holistic response and ensuring collaboration between allied professionals across disciplines. In addition to the India chapter, Avon has funded and launched Institutes in Brazil, Mexico, Nepal, the Philippines, South Africa, and most recently in Colombia.


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The Justice Institute program in Mumbai launched with a press conference addressed by Christine Jaworsky, Avon Foundation for Women Program Director, Rahul Shanker, Managing Director of Avon India, and actress Richa Chadha. A strong anti-violence advocate, Richa was present to support the work done by the Avon Foundation. The ‘Masaan’ actress also participated in a panel discussion on gender-based violence in India alongside Christine Jaworsky, Gigi Scoles, Vital Voices Director of Legal Initiatives and Human Rights, Priti Patkar from Mumbai-based Prerana, and Ravi Kant from New Delhi-based Shakti Vahini.

“Growing up and living in India, you are acquainted with the oppression of women on a daily basis, and I for one have had first-hand experience. There are the extreme cases that gain national and international attention – like acid attacks and dowry deaths – but we, as a society need to do more to address all forms of harassment and violence, including those instances that some people think aren’t ‘press-worthy’. We need to shift culture so that women are no longer told that we are less than equal. I fully endorse and appreciate the work of the Justice Institute, especially its focus on accountability and the speedy jurisdiction of cases of violence against women. I also wholeheartedly support the work of the Avon Foundation and Vital Voices. Their work to educate women about their rights, and to invest in local women leaders, goes a step further to create awareness in society and prevent violence and oppression in the first place. It’s 2016, and if our country really intends on becoming a superpower, we must start with treating half the population with compassion and creating social equality and justice,” said Richa Chadha.

“Domestic violence is a major barrier to the social and economic empowerment of women, and it violates the basic dignity and opportunity that every person deserves. At the Avon Foundation, we refuse to accept this as the status quo. That’s why, in 2004, Avon launched its ‘Speak Out Against Domestic Violence’initiative. Since then, Avon has contributed more than $60 million to support awareness, education, direct services and prevention programs aimed at stopping domestic and gender-based violence in nearly 50 countries,” said Christine Jaworsky, Avon Foundation for Women Program Director.

“While this is an impressive effort, we know Avon can’t change the devastating statistics of gender-based violence alone. Transformation takes real commitment and partnership. Knowing this, in March 2010, the Avon Foundation for Women, Vital Voices and the U.S. Department of State created The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women,” said Jaworsky. Since that time, the Partnership has expanded to include the global law firm DLA Piper, whose New Perimeter Pro Bono Initiative provides legal support and attorney trainers for the Justice Institutes.

Rahul Shanker, Managing Director, Avon India said, “2016 is a special year for Avon as we celebrate the company’s 130th anniversary. Through our business, we empower millions of women around the world to be self-sufficient-to earn an income to support themselves and make a better life for their families. We know that when women have the opportunity to earn, their children have greater opportunities to learn. Their families are healthier; their communities are stronger. But we also know that around the world, domestic and sexual violence are major barriers to the social and economic empowerment of women. Through our experiences, we have learned that no matter how sound the financial opportunity, women cannot truly be empowered unless their health and safety are guaranteed. In all that we do, in every part of the world, Avon puts women at the center of our work. The Justice Institutes exemplify this woman-centric approach.”

A three-day training will be held from 9th-11th September 2016, bringing together international and local experts on domestic violence and sexual violence laws to engage participants to understand how to implement these laws and also why it is important to do so. Working in collaboration with their peers across disciplines, participants create community strategies to overcome the challenges facing the prosecution of domestic and sexual violence in India.

The Institute was established as a public-private partnership between Vital Voices, the Avon Foundation for Women, and the U.S. Department of State to address extreme forms of gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices all around the world.

“We’ve learned that although every country faces different challenges, each has reported a common barrier: existing laws are not understood or consistently enforced, often leaving women unprotected and their abusers unaccountable. To address this, the Global Partnership created The Justice Institute on Gender-Based Violence, designed to ensure that existing laws better protect women. While we have a lot of work ahead of us, I am inspired by what these Institutes have already accomplished, and the myriad effects for years to come,” Jaworsky added.

“We are thrilled to bring the Justice Institute to Mumbai after a very successful program in New Delhi last year,” said Gigi Scoles, Director of Legal Initiatives for Human Rights at Vital Voices and a former specialized sexual violence and human trafficking prosecutor, with experience implementing training programs internationally. “The Justice Institute model has been very successful around the world in increasing victim access to justice. It encourages the adoption of a victim-centered approach, providing access to services, and challenging participants to question their own biases in relation to gender-based violence.”

About Vital Voices Global Partnership

Vital Voices Global Partnership is a leading non-governmental organization that identifies, invests in and brings visibility to extraordinary women around the world by unleashing their leadership potential to transform lives and accelerate peace and prosperity in their communities. Founded in 1997, the organization trains and mentors women leaders as agents of transformative change in economic development, human rights and political participation.

About Voices Against Violence: The GBV Global Initiative

Voices Against Violence: The GBV Global Initiative is a public-private partnership between Vital Voices, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and the Avon Foundation for Women. The program is designed to address extreme forms of gender-based violence and harmful traditional practices around the world by providing short term financial support to victims of extreme violence; technical assistance to service providers; and creating an international focal point for networking and coordination.

About Avon and the Avon Foundation for Women

Avon is a global corporate leader in philanthropy focused on causes that matter most to women. Through 2015, Avon and the Avon Foundation have contributed over $1 billion in over 50 countries. Avon global philanthropy programs focus on funding breast cancer research and advancing access to quality care through the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, and efforts to reduce domestic and gender violence through itsSpeak Out Against Domestic Violence program. The company’s global markets sell special products to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer and domestic violence, conduct hundreds of events for these causes, and educate women around the world through its global army of nearly six million Avon Representatives.


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