Opening First Event of Annual Documentary Series, Secretary-General Asks Creative Community to Help ‘Shine a Light’ on Global Development Issues

14 May 2009

Opening First Event of Annual Documentary Series, Secretary-General Asks Creative Community to Help ‘Shine a Light’ on Global Development Issues

14 May 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

opening first event of annual documentary series, Secretary-General asks creative

community to help ‘shine a light’ on global development issues

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s opening remarks to the “Envision:  Addressing Global Issues through Documentaries” event in New York today, 14 May:

Welcome to the first of a series of annual Envision events, co-sponsored by the United Nations Department of Public Information and the Independent Filmmaker Project.

Our objective is simple:  to harness the creative talents of the international filmmaking community to the United Nations bandwagon.  Together we want to help the world see and believe in a better future.

Over the next two days you will watch and discuss documentaries on women and the Millennium Development Goals.  These issues embody much of our work.  They are the focus of conferences.  They are the subject of many reports.  But we must always remember that behind the reports and the statistics are the stories of real women and men, their struggles and their triumphs.

The films we will see during this two-day programme bring these stories to life.  We will see how a woman braved the tide of hate that was sweeping over war-torn Liberia by asking women in her community to join her in singing for peace.  We will learn how microcredit is helping women climb from poverty, and we will share the struggles of girls and women in strongly patriarchal and traditional societies.  We will also experience the suffering of a young girl in South Africa, victim of a vicious rape.  We will witness the healing support she received, how she was encouraged to give voice to her pain, and how that helped to identify her attacker.

The people featured in these films have found ways to transcend their circumstances through individual courage and the support of others.  But throughout the world, women remain silenced.  They are kept invisible by violence or the oppression of poverty.  They have not achieved the “turning point” we see in these stories.  They are still waiting for the positive force that will improve their lives.

Our job is to generate the momentum for more of these turning points.  We are working with Governments, international institutions, non-governmental organizations and civil society to do so.  In the year 2000, Governments identified eight Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015.  Declaring these Goals has galvanized an unprecedented level of support.  We have made considerable progress.  But there is still much work to do.

We need to increase awareness about these Goals around the world.  To this end, I recently launched the United Nations Creative Community Outreach Initiative.  I am asking the many gifted storytellers in our community to help us tell our stories.  They can help us to shine a light on these important issues.  This film and discussion series is one of the initiative’s first projects.  I am confident it can make an impact.

As they say, “seeing is believing”.  The films in this series show us not only what is, but also what can be.  They help us believe.  They show us how individuals can make a difference.  And they show us that, together, we can create better lives for people everywhere.

I hope you will find the next two days enlightening and motivating.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.