March 11, 2010 at 02:17 AM EST
Avon Foundation for Women Grants $500,000 to the U.S. Department of State Secretary's Fund for Global Women's Leadership
Donation to Fund International Programs to End Violence Against Women

WASHINGTON, March 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The Avon Foundation for Women (www.avonfoundation.org) presented a $500,000 grant to the U.S. Department of State Secretary's Fund for Global Women's Leadership to accelerate the global movement to end violence against women. Andrea Jung, Avon Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and Reese Witherspoon, Avon Global Ambassador and Honorary Chairperson of the Avon Foundation, made the announcement at the International Women of Courage Awards, hosted by Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, at the U.S. Department of State.  

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Violence against women is a global epidemic yet efforts to prevent it are underfunded. Nearly one billion women worldwide -- that is one in three women -- will experience violence in their lifetime.  Yet around the world, services for victims are often limited or unavailable, and in many countries, laws to protect women do not exist or are not enforced.  Women who are abused cannot reach their social or economic potential, which hurts families, communities and entire countries -- and can be especially detrimental to developing countries where involvement of women is essential to growth.

The U.S. Department of State will use the grant to fund innovative and breakthrough programs developed by international non-government organizations for the purpose of ending violence against women.

"We are tremendously privileged to partner with the U.S. Department of State, and share in their resolve to end violence against women.  As the company for women, we are equally committed to providing women with an economic opportunity as we are serving as a change agent for critical issues that face women worldwide," said Jung. "We believe the answer to this complex problem lies in forging strong partnerships between the public and private sectors.  If we fuse our strengths -- the vast resources and commitment from the private sector, combined with the public sector's regional expertise and grassroots networks -- then our collective efforts can chart a course for a life free of violence against women everywhere."

These new efforts underscore Avon's ongoing commitment to ending violence against women, which includes the Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program launched by Avon and the Avon Foundation for Women in 2004.  These efforts have expanded to 45 countries including award-winning programs in Mexico and the Czech Republic.  Behind the success of these initiatives is much-needed grassroots mobilization and fundraising driven by the company's network of 6 million Avon Sales Representatives worldwide. To date, Avon global philanthropy has committed more than $16 million to end violence against women, including $8 million coming from the global sales of Avon Empowerment Products developed in partnership with Witherspoon.

"I am proud to serve as Avon Global Ambassador and represent a company with a conscience and the courage to take on hard issues.  Although we face many challenges around the world, nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of women and girls everywhere," says Witherspoon.  "Investments like the one announced today by the Avon Foundation and the U.S. Department of State are essential to the development and implementation of programs to end this global crisis."

The Avon Foundation for Women, along with Vital Voices, is also collaborating with the U.S. Department of State to host a three-day conference, The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women in Washington, D.C., from March 9-11. This innovative public-private partnership, which is founded on the premise that local experts are best suited to know what solutions will work in their own communities, will foster the creation of cross-sector collaborations with the goal of reducing violence against women.

To facilitate the Global Partnership, Avon and the Avon Foundation for Women donated $1.2 million to Vital Voices to bring together 15 country delegations consisting of leaders from diverse sectors -- business, government, law enforcement, the nongovernmental organization (NGO) community, academia and others -- in a global forum to share insights, forge collaborations, and seek ways to overcome challenging cultural realities that have been barriers to progress. The Global Partnership will support regional events in India and Argentina in the fall of 2010. Additionally, the Global Partnership will create a violence against women campaign Toolkit that will provide information and strategies to develop effective advocacy, awareness and education campaigns and programs that NGOs can use to reduce violence against women in any country.

Avon Products, Inc.

Avon, 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 million 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 (www.avonfoundation.org) 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.

SOURCE Avon Foundation for Women

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