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Take Action to Protect Funding for International Assistance Programs

Late Friday night, Congress was finally able to reach a deal regarding this year's budget. Although this was an important step towards reducing the deficit, some representatives are proposing further cuts to next year's international assistance budget.

The fact is, poverty-focused international assistance accounts for less than 1% of our national budget. This means that cutting it wouldn’t begin to make a dent in the U.S. deficit. What’s more, further cuts to international assistance would disproportionately affect millions of women and girls. And they would be especially detrimental to programs that aim to protect women from sexual violence and assault.

If our Representatives on Capitol Hill knew what women around the world face everyday, they might not be so quick to cut these life-saving programs. If they knew the story of Rose Mapendo, maybe they would reconsider.

As told in the new Independent Lens documentary, “Pushing the Elephant”, airing on PBS this month, Rose’s story is one of struggle, sacrifice, and courage. During the harrowing violence that engulfed the Democratic Republic of Congo in the late 1990s, Rose and her family were imprisoned and her husband executed. After her release, the film captures Rose’s struggle to balance her duties as a single mother of ten, world-renowned advocate of reconciliation and women’s empowerment, and the reunion with a daughter after almost a decade apart.

In 2009, the UN High Commissioner on Refugees awarded Rose the Humanitarian of the Year Award, but she’ll be the first to tell you that her work is not yet done. The violence rages on in her country, and women suffer the most brutal consequences. Sexual assault is used as a primary weapon of warfare, and hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped in the past few years alone.

Meanwhile, Congress is threatening to make things even worse by attempting to balance our federal deficit on the backs of those already struggling to survive.

Take Action! Call your Representatives and tell them NOT to cut international assistance.

After all, poverty-focused international assistance programs make up less than 1% of our national budget.

As Rose says, “One person alone cannot push an elephant. But many people together can...”

Call your Representatives now and tell them to value women like Rose and her daughters over a drop in the bucket of our deficit. Tell them to protect international assistance so that survivors of sexual violence can receive treatment and programs that prevent rape can be strengthened.

Together, we can push this elephant and protect the lives of millions.

***Don’t forget to watch Pushing the Elephant! More information and local PBS listings can be found here: http://www.itvs.org/films/pushing-the-elephant

Sincerely,

Lorelle Curry
Senior Manager, Outreach
Women Thrive Worldwide

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