On February 15, 2019, Title IV, sec. 40001-40703 of H.R.3355 – Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 or the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) officially for the second time after being reinstated on January 25, 2019, following the 2018-2019 U.S Government shutdown. The act was revived thanks to a short-term spending bill after it first expired on December 21, 2018.
“I believe that the expiration of the violence against women act is fatal,” said Deborah Owhin, a global strategist who works with international management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. The US has struggled on the global scene to be at the forefront of protecting women and their rights for many years.”
Owhin’s outrage is a response to the disappearance of an act that created protections against domestic violence, sex dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking; including a host of other provisions relating to criminal justice; and the most recent government shutdown under the Trump administration is partially to blame.
“I believe like many who are advocates to end violence against women and girls this partial government shutdown is dangerous to the lives of possible victims and survivors of physical or sexual abuse,” said Owhin.
Through VAWA, court authorities, law enforcement, legal officials, and victim advocates, on local and state levels, created a coordinated effort to ensure the protection of women on against violent crimes.
Some of these provisions included increased safety and security in public areas, additional training for law enforcement for domestic violence cases, grants for battered women’s shelters and rape prevention education, allowing judges to give increased sentences for repeat offenders of violent crimes, support for Native American communities, and provisions for immigrants who would normally not have rights.
Owhin considers herself an advocate for ending gender inequality and stopping violence against women and young girls. Since early 2018, the Spelman graduate has taken it upon herself to help some of the biggest challenges that range from operational issues to entering new markets to expand product lines in 2019 for Fortune 100 and 500 companies.
“I believe in women,” said Ohwin. “Unfortunately, there’s a world where women and girls are not always afforded the same opportunities as men.”
“At a young age, it became quite evident to me that I wanted to be a voice for women.”
After graduating from Spelman College bachelor’s of arts in psychology, Owhin went on to work with the London local authority, Brent Council’s Community Safety Unit, and as the youngest coordinator for Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).
Through reports, she helped with the risk assessment criteria. She also discussed how to help women in domestic violence situations which included putting out restraining orders against abusive men and creating a safe house for victims, as well as involving child protection services if need be.
“During my time, I continued to progress, and on the 25th of 2011, a statutory requirement came in which said that any homicides, if the victim had been murdered within the area, there has to be an investigation,” said Owhin.
While working on these investigations, Owhin’s experience in global strategies started to come into play in her work for fighting against violence toward women.
After being invited by The UK National Alliance of Women’s President to join the United Kingdom’s delegation to the United Nation 57th Commission on the Status of Women in New York City, Owhin decided to create Made Equal, a non-profit engages, educates, and empowers young professionals to be the first generation to eradicate gender inequality and violence against women and girls.
Owhin says that Made Equal opens dialogue for men and women to discuss rape, violence, and various topics that affect women.
“With Made Equal, people can volunteer and do things, and a lot of the people who worked with me have gone on to be the head of advocacy and programs, run their organizations and working with the Girl Guides Association or Advocacy Directors,” Owhin said. “We advocate for young professionals to open the space and dialogue.”
“We have fathers, we have brothers; we have cousins and other men who want to know how can they stand with you as your brother, as your friend and not be silent around the issues of violence,” Owhin said.
This was prior to the HeForShe campaign which aimed to achieve equality by encouraging all genders to take action against negative stereotypes and behaviors.
“Men can actually be allies with women and not that they are the ones leading this campaign, but they signed in and said you know, ‘we love the women in our lives, and we don’t want to see them become victims of any violence,’” Owhin said.
Owhin’s efforts have led her to campaign alongside Meryl Streep, Baroness Valerie Amos, Malala Yousuf, Angelina Jolie, and Yvonne Chaka Cha while representing Made Equal.
Owhin says that she wants to be able to be a resource for women through Made Equal by allowing other women around the world to share their experience of how they’ve made an impact in their community.
She continues to do the work toward ending the violence of all kinds against women.
“I strongly believe having the right skills around strategy and abilities to be able to scale, to be able to fund women’s challenges and women’s issues are going to be key,” Owhin said.