Women, Girls Who Have Suffered Violence - Not Just Victims, but Mothers, Sisters, Teachers, Leaders, Opinion Moulders, Says Deputy Secretary-General

15 July 2013

Women, Girls Who Have Suffered Violence - Not Just Victims, but Mothers, Sisters, Teachers, Leaders, Opinion Moulders, Says Deputy Secretary-General

15 July 2013
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Women, Girls Who Have Suffered Violence ‑ Not Just Victims, but Mothers, Sisters,

Teachers, Leaders, Opinion Moulders, Says Deputy Secretary-General


Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks at the event entitled “Harnessing the Power of Technology to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls”, in New York, 15 July:

It is good to see all of you here today.  I am especially grateful to the Mission of Japan for hosting this important event.

Let me also express my gratitude to UN-Women and Acting Head Lakshmi Puri during this period of transition.  As you know, the Secretary-General just announced Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka of South Africa as the successor of Michelle Bachelet.  We look forward to the leadership she will bring to UN-Women.

My message to this meeting today is basic and simple:  when we on a large-scale help women and girls to reclaim their lives, we and they can and will change the world.  We saw a stunning example of the power of humanity ‑ and of one individual ‑ to meet and overcome violence last week, when we observed Malala Day at the United Nations.

Malala Yousafzai spoke out here at the United Nations in her first major appearance since terrorists tried to end her life and her mission nine months ago.  As we all witnessed, she showed outstanding dignity, poise and courage. 

Malala called on world leaders to ensure freedom and equality for women so that they can grow and flourish.  And she urged her sisters around the world “to be brave ‑ to embrace the strength within themselves and realize their full potential”.  I was deeply moved to watch her in the General Assembly Hall.  I believe the final words of her speech will be an inspiration for years to come:  “A girl, a teacher, a book, a pen can change the world.”

But those of us who were there represented just a fraction of the people touched by her speech.  Within minutes after she spoke, 24,000 unique accounts tweeted about Malala Day.  Countless others also got the word out on social media in ways we can not measure.  Hundreds of millions of people received her message in real time.  Long after the event ended, the waves of communications continued to spread. 

This is a clear example of our theme today:  the power of technology to bring about positive change.

I am grateful that we are joined by United Nations Trust Fund grantees who are using technology in innovative ways to help girls coping with the effects of conflict.  I welcome officials from Physicians for Human Rights and the Population Council.

Technology has enormous power to highlight and record human rights violations and to raise awareness so that we change mindsets and deal with violence at its roots.  It will be extremely valuable to hear from the experts here on how we can better use technology to protect women and girls and create a safer world for all vulnerable people.

I am proud to be part of the Secretary-General’s global campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women.  It is successfully mobilizing Governments, civil society and other partners around the world.

The United Nations Trust Fund is an essential part of this effort.  Its grants have already helped 24 million girls and women around the world.  The Secretary-General has set an ambitious goal for the Trust Fund:  to award $100 million in grants annually by 2015.  This would substantially address violence and allow millions of women and girls to reclaim their lives.

This work against violence and for security is also essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  As we approach the finish line, we are starting to shape a vision for a universal development agenda beyond 2015.

In all of our efforts, we have to answer the call from Malala and the many other women and girls who have suffered violence and abuse.  Let us remember that they are not only victims.  They are also mothers, sisters, teachers, leaders and opinion moulders.  Like Malala, these girls and women are our future.

I count on each of you to continue and strengthen your efforts to end violence against girls and women so that they themselves can help build security, prosperity and equality and dignity for all.  Thank you.

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