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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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New York, 23 November 2011 - Secretary-General's remarks at Event to Commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Excellencies,

Ms. Coleman,

Distinguished guests,

We are all aware that violence against women and girls takes many forms.

It includes rape, domestic violence and harassment at work.

There is abuse in school, female genital mutilation and sexual violence in armed conflict.

This violence spans the globe.

And it is predominantly inflicted by men.

These are the facts.

Whether in developing or developed countries, the pervasiveness of this unacceptable violence should shock us all.

Violence -- and in many cases the mere threat of it -- is one of the most significant barriers to women's full equality.

All women and girls have the fundamental right to live free of violence.

This right is enshrined in international human rights and humanitarian law.

And it lies at the heart of my UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign. I am glad to see many of you wearing t-shirts of different designs – any design will be welcome, as long as you wear them. And I would like to congratulate these very creative youth winners who have designed these t-shirts. I have [gave an] award this morning to all these great young creative leaders.

Since its launch in 2008, the campaign has galvanized governments, civil society, the corporate sector, athletes, artists, women, men and young people around the world.

The social mobilization platform “Say NO-UNiTE” has recorded more than 2 million activities worldwide -- from protest marches to public awareness campaigns, from legislative advocacy to assistance for victims.

Many of these activities have received support from the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women.

The Fund is now 15 years old.

It has delivered grants worth $77 million dollars to 339 initiatives in 126 countries and territories.

We would like the Fund to be able to do even more, but demand for support continues to outstrip resources.

This year alone, it has received more than 2,500 applications requesting nearly $1.2 billion dollars.

I appeal to all our partners to help us meet this vast unmet need.

Our challenge is to ensure that the message of "zero tolerance" is heard far and wide.

To do that, we must engage all of society – and especially young people – and in particular young men and boys.

Too many young men still grow up surrounded by outmoded male stereotypes.

Two years ago, I launched a Network of Men Leaders to address this issue.

Older men should set a good example in saying no to such violence.

We need to promote healthy models of masculinity.

But to do that, young men and boys must be encouraged to become the advocates we need.

We need this generation of men to make a break from the ingrained behaviour of generations.

The theme of this year's International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is youth leadership.

Wherever I go I try to meet –and listen to – young people.

I am always impressed by their energy and resolve to make our world a better place.

This morning I met the six winners of the global T-shirt design for the UNiTE campaign. I congratulate them again.

Inventive and compelling, these t-shirts can help to spread our message.

We want people everywhere to speak up. To say “No” to violence against women and girls.

On this International Day, I urge governments and partners around the world to harness the energy, ideas and leadership of young people to help us to end this pandemic.

Only then will we have a more just, peaceful and equitable world.

Thank you very much.


Statements on 23 November 2011