In societies where safeguards for women are scant, it is often up to local women to combat physical and sexual abuse with their own innovative solutions. In Zimababwe, for example, Betty Makoni, a woman who was raped by a neighbor at the age of six, is empowering other women to protect themselves through legal counseling and education. Her story, and those of other women around the world, are highlighted in a June 17, 2008 Washington Post article . The article, written by Nora Boustany, discusses the prevalence of gender-based violence and the role the U.S. can play in reducing it.
Last month, Makoni was in Washington, D.C. lobbying for the passage of the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA)  introduced last year by Senators Joseph Biden (D-Del) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind) and developed by Women Thrive Worldwide, Amnesty International USA, the Family Violence Prevention Fund, and Senate sponsors with the help of over 150 groups around the world.
The IVAWA would for the first time comprehensively incorporate solutions to reduce gender-based violence, an extreme human rights violation, and major cause of poverty, into all U.S. foreign assistance programs. It would do this by investing in proven solutions such as promoting women’s economic opportunity, addressing violence against girls in school, and working to change public attitudes.