In football match, UN, national figures team up against sexual violence

From left: UNDP Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Heraldo Muñoz, Bolivian President Evo Morales and UNDP Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan. Photo: UNDP/Fabrice Grover

26 September 2013 – Bolivian President Evo Morales and other high-level Government and United Nations officials met today on the football field to support the UN campaign ‘UNiTE to End Violence Against Women,’ globally and in Latin America and the Caribbean, which has some of the highest rates of gender-related crime.

Wearing dark blue, the colour of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and orange, the UNiTE campaign colour, more than 20 top officials came together on the Roosevelt Island Soccer Field, close to the UN Headquarters on the East side of Manhattan.

Players included the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Nicola Poposki, and two women members of parliament from Norway, Karin Andersen and Lene Vågslid.

They were joined by the Ambassador of Austria to the UN and diplomats from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Liechtenstein and the United States. The orange team clinched the match 7-6.

“Football is a global passion and a great way to win hearts and minds, conveying the message that ‘real men don’t hit’,” said Heraldo Muñoz, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, the match organizer and orange team captain,

“Leadership and political determination are critical to end violence against women, and action and resources need to follow,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator Rebeca Grynspan.

“Governments must lead by example, showing zero tolerance to all forms of gender violence and adopting and enforcing laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls, in line with international human rights standards,” she added.

Ms. Grynspan kicked off the match with Lakshmi Puri, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Women Deputy Executive Director, using SOCCKET—a ball that generates electricity when kicked and exemplifies innovative solutions for inclusive, sustainable energy.

“Let’s seize this opportunity to strike a goal against violence and for women’s rights and gender equality,” Ms. Puri said.

Worldwide, up to 50 per cent of sexual assaults are committed against young women and girls under the age of 16. More than half of the 25 countries with the highest rates of female murders (femicide) are in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to Small Arms Survey’s 2012 report.

Launched by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2008, the UNiTE campaign calls for all countries to put in place strong laws, action plans, preventive measures, data collection and other systematic efforts to address sexual violence by 2015.

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