|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
SOCIAL MOBILIZATION IS SPARK THAT IGNITES ACTION, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL
AT HIGH-LEVEL EVENT ON ENDING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) high-level event: “United Voices Say NO to Violence against Women”, in New York today, 25 November:
When I launched my global campaign to end violence against women in February, I stressed that we must act.
We must act because, every day, countless women are beaten and abused in their homes, where they should feel safe.
We must act because girls risk sexual abuse and rape in schools when they should be able to study.
We must act because women and girls are trafficked across borders.
We must act because widespread and systematic sexual violence in conflict has become a horrific weapon of war.
In launching my campaign, I called on Government leaders, advocates and people throughout society to carry this urgent message around the world.
UNIFEM led the charge. Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman took action. So did every other person who signed their name to the “Say NO to Violence against Women” effort. This sent a resounding call around the world.
I want to thank you for raising your voices.
Social mobilization is the spark that ignites action. I am delighted that Governments, civil society organizations and the private sector have come together through the “Say NO” initiative. Looking around this room, I am particularly happy to see so many men participating.
We need to mobilize for laws that protect women and punish perpetrators. And we need to enforce the laws that are already on the books, and put an end to the impunity that so often prevails.
We need national plans that spell out how to raise public awareness and change attitudes, how to provide services for survivors, and -- most importantly -- how to prevent the abuse of women.
This will take resources. I urge greater support for the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. If we meet the target of raising $100 million annually by 2015, we can make a significant difference in women’s lives.
There is also a need for reliable data. We know that violence against women and girls is pervasive and widespread. But we also know that fear and shame prevent many women from speaking out. More data and analysis will strengthen our responses and help us track progress.
We need to mobilize against the systematic sexual violence committed against civilians in conflict. The recent flare-up of fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is only the most recent example of the appalling nature of the problem.
In all conflict areas, we not only have to stop the fighting, but also make sure that sexual violence does not continue after the guns fall silent. We should also do more to engage women in peacebuilding.
And finally, as we look ahead, we need to work with youth. They hold the key to a violence-free future.
Our goal is ambitious. Instead of having to say no to violence against women, we want to be able to say: there is no violence against women.
[After receiving signatures at end of ceremony, the Secretary-General continues:]
It is a great honour for me to receive this “United Voices Say NO to Violence against Women”, and I would like to thank each and every one around the world who signed this signature call to action. And I am very much humbled by such a strong commitment and I would like to express my sincere appreciation and commend the role of the Executive Director of UNIFEM, as well as the Goodwill Ambassador and many other leaders who have been tirelessly working to stop violence against women.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to urge and welcome all other persons to join in this global campaign to action “Say NO to Violence against Women”. As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am committed and will assure you again, reaffirm my commitment that I will do all I can [within] my power and the authority of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to see a world where there is no violence against women.
Until such time, let us work together. Let us work for all those people who need our help and thank you very much for your leadership and commitment.
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