24 June 2008 Prime ministers and foreign ministers from 10 countries have signed on to the “Say NO to Violence against Women Campaign” – a move welcomed by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), which is organizing the drive.
UNIFEM’s Executive Director Inés Alberdi said in a statement that the development “strengthens political will to combat violence against women everywhere, and the United Nations Secretary-General’s call for multi-year action on this issue.”
Prime ministers and foreign ministers from Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Greece, Lebanon, the Palestinian National Authority, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Spain, Germany, as well as the French Ambassador to the UK, the European Commissioner for External Relations and the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) all gave their support to the initiative at a ceremony held in Vienna yesterday.
Hosting the event, Austria’s Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said: “Women have a right to live a life free of violence. It is not only one of the worst human rights violations, but also a risk for sustainable and equitable development.”
UNICEF says that violence against women is probably the most pervasive human rights violation, affecting as many as one in three women and girls.
The UN agency has set up a trust fund which has awarded more than $19 million in grants to 263 projects in 115 countries. Among other issues, the funded projects have worked to stop human trafficking, put an end to honour killings and provide services for survivors. A particular focus lies on supporting the implementation of laws and policies on violence against women.
UNIFEM seeks to gather 1 million names through the “Say NO to Violence against Women campaign” website. To date more than 225,000 individuals have signed on. The campaign will run until 25 November, when the signatures will be handed over to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
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