The U.N. Development Fund for Women has launched a new advocacy campaign to end violence against women. The fund has recruited Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman to help promote the campaign, which is an internet-based initiative that asks people to sign a "virtual book" that promotes women's rights.
The U.N. Fund says violence against women is the most pervasive human rights violation around the world. Women are subjected to domestic violence, trafficked across borders, and the victims of systematic rape in conflict zones.
The United Nations estimates that one in three women will be a victim of violence in her lifetime.
The Development Fund for Women seeks to bring global attention to the issue and promote gender equality.
At a news conference, actress Nicole Kidman said she was proud to serve as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Fund. She says the new internet campaign called "Say No to Violence Against Women," will increase global awareness of the issue.
"We know that violence against women is a problem, but we know there is also a solution," said Kidman.
The acting executive director of the U.N. Development Fund for Women, Joanne Sandler, said a growing number of organizations and governments are taking steps to end violence against women and have also pledged their support for the new internet campaign and website, www.saynotoviolence.org.
Sandler says the website will serve as source of information on the issue. She says the virtual book will amplify the number of voices urging governments to take serious steps to end violence against women.
Sandler says at least 89 countries now have laws on domestic violence. But, this means more than 200 nations have no such protections.
"Implementation is inadequate," said Sandler. "Impunity for perpetrators is still the rule rather than the exception. That is why so many women still fear to speak out."
The U.N. organization also manages a trust fund that awards money and technical assistance to countries that implement anti-violence campaigns. Sandler said 35 countries, including Rwanda and Peru, will be given grants for women-based programs this year.
Sandler said the trust fund is an invaluable tool to help promote gender equality, but struggles to stay afloat financially.
"Despite the scope of the problem, and unlike for instance the trust fund to end HIV, AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has billions of dollars, the trust fund to end violence has struggled to secure $5 million for grant making last year, while receiving well over $100 million in requests."
The launch date of the new internet-based campaign was chosen to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.