UN officials welcome "billion mom march" against gun violence
Known as the "billion mom march," the mobilization of mothers, grandmothers and mothers-to-be was launched at a press conference held at UN Headquarters on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters at the briefing, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament, Jayantha Dhanapala, welcomed the movement's support for the UN's efforts to "create a safer world, free of the scourge of small arms."
"The women who march through the streets of the world raising their voice on behalf of the present and future generations should not only express their grief, but also endeavour to translate that grief into mobilizing the world for action," he said.
The Under-Secretary-General also called on all members of the international community to join their efforts in combating the problem, which will be the focus of this July's UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.
Noeleen Heyzer, the Executive Director of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), sent a message on the occasion of the launch noting that the movement's members "are joined in spirit by millions of women in conflict areas who have been marching and rallying for years exposing human rights violations and demanding justice so that their children's lives will not be characterized by guns and violence."
Ms. Heyzer emphasized that while women suffered continual threats and abuse during conflicts, they were not just victims. "They are activists, peacemakers, heads of households and survivors," she said. "They hold families and communities together and they have important contributions to make to the peace process."
According to the movement's mission statement, mothers pledge to march "wherever we can, whenever we can, however we can, each mother according to her circumstances and abilities." They also undertake to "continue marching and raising our voices day after day, year after year, until our children are safe."