Actress, Avon lend support to UN-led campaign to end violence against women

Reese Witherspoon, Andrea Jung, Joanne Sandler and Michelle Montas

4 March 2008 – Academy Award-winning actress Reese Witherspoon and cosmetics giant Avon have agreed to lend their voices to United Nations-led efforts to stamp out violence against women as part of a public-private partnership announced today.

Avon is committing $1 million to the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, which was created by the General Assembly in 1996 and is administered by the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). Avon’s donation will be the largest corporate grant ever made in a single year to the Trust Fund.

“Violence against women is the hidden pandemic,” UNIFEM’s acting Executive Director Joanne Sandler said at a press briefing in New York today.

But she also stressed that “violence is a problem with solutions,” welcoming Avon’s donation as a means to bolster the work of the Trust Fund, which has disbursed $18 million to 250 innovative programmes in more than 100 countries in the past decade.

Ms. Witherspoon, who serves as Avon Global Ambassador, pointed out that two-thirds of those living in poverty around the world are women and that in all countries, women earn less than men do in similar jobs.

“When you hear statistics like that, it’s impossible not to feel motivated to do something,” she told reporters.

Avon’s contribution to the Trust Fund will be generated by the company matching the first $500,000 in sales of a new women’s empowerment bracelet.

“I hope to see this bracelet on the wrists of women worldwide as a sign of solidarity and hope,” Ms. Witherspoon said.

Also today, UNIFEM and Avon co-sponsored an event, ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March, called “Global Summit for a Better Tomorrow” bringing together Liliana Rainero – a Trust Fund grantee from Argentina – and television personality and best-selling author Suze Orman, among others.


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