nicole-kidman.jpgUN Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman called for millions of people to add their name to an online petition for opposing violence against women. “I know that there are millions around the world who care deeply about the issue — and I urge all of them to come on board,” said the Academy Award–winning actress referring to the Say NO to Violence Against Women campaign. (UN Photo of Nicole Kidman at press conference in NY, by Jenny Rockett)

“Every voice counts, and every amount counts,” Ms. Kidman told reporters at an April 22 press conference in New York, urging people to add their names to the campaign and donors to step up funding for the cause. “Let survivors of violence around the world know that they can count on us.”

Nicole Kidman is the campaign’s spokesperson. “I have been UNIFEM’s Goodwill Ambassador for more than two years now and I have seen how being born a woman puts you at risk of the most appalling and widespread human rights violation of our time,” said Ms. Kidman. “The Say NO to Violence campaign provides people all over the world with an opportunity to add their names to an ever-growing movement of people demanding that ending violence against women be made a top priority for governments around the world,” she added.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro welcomed UNIFEM’s Internet initiative as an important contribution to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s multi-year campaign on violence against women. “We need more of this and other initiatives throughout the UN system in the next years as we join together around the UN Secretary-General’s campaign,” she said. “By raising awareness, [the Say NO campaign] helps to make visible the hidden pandemic of our time.

Joanne Sandler, UNIFEM Executive Director a.i., stressed the progress made and underscored the need to translate that progress into fully funded concrete programs and services. “At least 89 countries have specific laws on domestic violence and more than 100 countries have made rape a crime. Yet, the violent crimes committed against women far too often go unpunished and the perpetrators walk free,” she said. Sandler emphasized the need to scale up funding for the UNIFEM-managed United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, which provides financial support globally to innovative efforts that work. “Through the Trust Fund we have learned that strategic investments can protect women and prevent gender-based violence. Public spaces are being made safer for women in Argentina and Peru and in Rwanda, police have received training and motorbikes so that they can respond quickly to incidents of domestic violence,” she said.

The Trust Fund receives requests well in excess of $100 million annually, and while contributions are increasing — reaching a record high of $15 million for grants in 2008 — there is much more good work to be funded. UNIFEM’s Say NO campaign seeks additional resources for the Trust Fund as it builds public support and political will on the issue.

Corporations, charities and foundations are joining forces with UNIFEM and supporting the UN Trust Fund, at times through the Say NO campaign. Tim Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation, presented to UNIFEM a $100,000 contribution saying, “The UN Foundation issued a challenge grant that donated $1 to each of the first 100,000 signatures. We are very pleased to cut our check to the UN Trust Fund.”

The Say NO initiative continues until November 25 2008, the internationally recognized day to eliminate violence against women, when UNIFEM will hand over the signatures to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in support of his global campaign.

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