Actress takes starring role in UN campaign to eliminate violence against women

17 November 2008
Charlize Theron, new United Nations Messenger of Peace

Academy Award-winning actress and activist Charlize Theron said today she was honoured to go to work for the United Nations on the Secretary-General's “UNite to End Violence against Women” campaign after being inducted as a UN Messenger of Peace.

Ms. Theron was introduced by Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro as a UN Messenger of Peace with a focus on ending violence against women in a ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York.

“Charlize Theron is much more than a movie star. She is a great humanitarian who is using her capacity [and her] celebrity to draw attention to the plight of millions of nameless women who are suffering from violence and abuse,” Ms. Migiro said at the ceremony.

Underscoring the importance of the actor's task, Ms. Migiro highlighted the case of a 13 year-old girl who was stoned to death in Somalia in front of a huge mob last month for reporting her rape to local authorities.

“She was brutalized twice first by her attackers [and] then by the authorities. Tragically this type of violence in perpetrated to various degrees all around the world,” the Deputy Secretary-General added.

Ms. Theron told reporters after the ceremony that it was hard to ignore violence growing up in her native South Africa, where one in three women will experience rape in her lifetime.

“Being born and raised in a country like South Africa, living in a country where it was very evident to me that violence against women and children was something that wasn't going to go away, and as a matter of fact it has just gotten worse,” she said.

“I really look forward to working with this great Organization and its wonderful people to get a strong message across, a message of no acceptance of this any more,” she added.

The actress will be working on the Secretary-General's campaign to end violence against women which was launched earlier this year and runs until 2015 to coincide with the target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight internationally agreed objectives including gender equality.

At least one out of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime, one in five women worldwide will become a victim of rape or attempted rape, and up to 130 million women have been genitally mutilated, according to a press release issued by the campaign.

“I think we're at a time where people just want to join together and cause change. People don't want to live like this any more,” Ms. Theron told reporters.


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