The U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has launched a campaign in the Kenyan capital Nairobi to mobilise 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 per cent 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 violence.

The multi-year initiative will contribute through advocacy and outreach to the high-profile U.N. Secretary-General-led campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women. The initial target of the plan is to reach 1,00,000 actions by March 2010 and 1 million 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 programmes that protect women and girls from violence.

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

Global effort

The money will go to organisations 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 patients and medical staff at the Gender-Based Violence Recovery Center at Kenyatta Hospital, which provides a one-stop solace to survivors of sexual violence. The centre is run in partnership with the organisation 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 programmes led by the Kenyan child rights organisation 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,” said Ms. Alberdi.

“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,” Ms. 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. The 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. — Xinhua

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