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At Headquarters and around the globe, UN celebrates International Women’s Day

UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet addresses event commemorating International Women's Day 2013.
UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet addresses event commemorating International Women's Day 2013.

At Headquarters and around the globe, UN celebrates International Women’s Day

The United Nations celebrated International Women’s Day today with the debut of a new song to rally and inspire listeners to join the drive for women’s rights and gender equality, and a call to action to turn the promises for women into concrete change.

“One Woman” is a musical celebration of women worldwide, featuring 25 artists from 20 countries across the globe. The song calls for change and celebrates acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who daily make extraordinary contributions to their countries and communities.

“One Woman” is the first theme song for a UN body. Its lyrics are inspired by stories of women whom the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) has supported.

“One Woman gives us a message of hope and inspiration”, says UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet. “This song carries a message of unity and solidarity with women worldwide and reminds us that equality, human rights and human dignity are the birthright of all of us, every human being.”

Celebrations of the Day spanned the globe, from the official observance at UN Headquarters on a cold and snowy day in New York to the top of Africa’s highest mountain, which an all-female UN-backed team scaled this week to highlight the importance of girls’ education.

During the official commemoration at UN Headquarters, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that women and girls are subjected to shocking attacks and abuse and that the violence is mostly committed by husbands, fathers, colleagues and others whom women should be able to trust.

“No country is immune. Violence against women and girls is a heinous human rights violation that takes place regardless of income, class and culture – in countries at peace and those at war,” he stated.

“But violence against women is not inevitable. Mindsets can change. Data collection can be strengthened. States can and must provide legal aid, increase police capacity, extend the reach of protection plans and bring to justice perpetrators,” he added.

Ms. Bachelet announced at the ceremony that 50 governments and the European Commission have committed to take concrete action to end violence against girls and women. “UN Women applauds these commitments. But we must do even more,” she stated.

“If we act with courage, conviction and commitment, we can change violence against women from being the most pervasive violation of human rights to being a rare occurrence that is considered unacceptable and no longer tolerated.”

Also in New York, Mrs. Ban Soon-taek, the wife of the Secretary-General, led a UN Women for Peace march that began in front of the General Assembly building and proceed to the Dag Hammarskjöld Park.

In Tanzania, an all-female climbing team supported by the UN reached the summit Mount Kilimanjaro earlier this week, in celebration of International Women’s Day. The team, made up of seven Nepalese women and three African women, participated in the expedition as a way to raise awareness of the importance of women’s rights, in particular education for girls.

The UN agency assisting Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) celebrated the Day with a series of events focusing on ending violence against women – including workshops, fairs, puppet shows, exhibitions and art competitions – in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and embattled Syria.

The Day was also marked with statements from UN officials working in the field, including those in missions in Liberia, Afghanistan and South Sudan, as well as offices in Somalia and Bangkok.