UN agency launches global action platform to end violence against women

11:38, November 08, 2009      

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The UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has launched a campaign in the Kenyan capital Nairobi to mobilize people around the world to take part in a drive to stop the pandemic of violence suffered by women.

The global advocacy initiative Say NO -- UNiTE to End Violence against Women, will stimulate, count and showcase actions on ending violence against women. The innovative platform will spotlight global efforts and demonstrate the groundswell of support and actions on the issue.

Based on country data, it is estimated that up to 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime.

Say NO -- UNiTE to End Violence against Women is a global call for action to end this pandemic violence.

The multi-year initiative will contribute through advocacy and outreach to the high-profile UN Secretary-General-led campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women.

The initial target of the plan is to reach 100,000 actions by March 2010 and 1 million actions in one year.

Actions to be showcased and counted can range from reaching out to students at schools, to volunteering at local shelters, advocating for legislation or donating funds towards programs that protect women and girls from violence.

The luxury watch manufacturer OMEGA announced a challenge grant of 50,000 U.S. dollars for the first 50,000 actions, a result of cooperation with UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman.

The money will go to organizations working on the ground.

Kicking off the international efforts, UNIFEM Executive Director Ines Alberdi in Nairobi along with Kenyan Minister of Gender, Children and Social Development, Esther Murugi Mathenge, met with patients and medical staff at the Gender-Based Violence Recovery Center at Kenyatta Hospital, which provides a one-stop shop to survivors of sexual violence.

The center is run in partnership with the organization Coalition on Violence against Women, COVAW, a UNIFEM partner.

They also saw first-hand work to prevent gender-based violence as they interacted at Ngara High School with girls, who are participating in leadership, mentorship and self-protection programs led by the Kenyan child rights organization The Cradle, another UNIFEM partner.

"We know that violence against women is a problem with solutions. What I have seen first-hand today in Kenya is the impact of effective work at the grassroots level, yet there is an urgent need for the governments to make this issue a top priority and take decisive action," Alberdi said.

"UNIFEM is launching today the Say NO -- UNiTE initiative to trigger actions from all walks of life and engage people to come together and end violence against women," Alberdi added.

Applauding the launch of the innovative advocacy platform, Minister of Gender, Esther Murugi Mathenge, said ending violence against women is a top priority of the Kenyan government.

"I will continue to work towards delivering more services and resources for survivors as well as prevention programs. Taking this opportunity, I also call upon all segments of society, including the private sector, NGOs, academics, and in particular men to get involved with this issue so as to usher in lasting change," the official said.

The Say NO -- UNiTE initiative, which will count actions by individuals, the governments and civil society partners, has already gained the support of more than 80 launch partners from across the world.

Say NO builds upon the momentum generated in 2008 during its first phase, when more than five million people signed on to a global internet campaign to make ending violence against women a top priority worldwide.

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