For immediate release
Date: 16 October 2006
(1) Oisika Chakrabarti, Media Specialist, UN Women Headquarters, +1 646 781-4522,
(2) Joan Libby Hawk, Public Affairs Specialist, UN Women Headquarters, +1 212-906-6390,
Pristina and New York — United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman concluded a two-day visit on 14 and 15 October to Kosovo, her first trip as UNIFEM’s Goodwill Ambassador. The visit provided Ms. Kidman an opportunity to learn first-hand about the experiences of women in Kosovo and UNIFEM’s efforts to support them. Together with UNIFEM Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer, she met with women who had been victims of sexual violence, war widows, and women who are still searching for missing family members. She also met with women leaders and representatives from civil society.
Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer said, “It is vital that women’s voices be heard and their influence felt at this critical time of Final Status Talks. Nicole hopes that this trip will help convey the strong message from Kosovo’s women that they must be central to decisions about the future of their society and communities.”
UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman said, “I was very moved by the many women I met during my Kosovo trip. I learned so much from the experiences that they were willing to share — they spoke about how violence has disrupted their lives and the lives of their children. They talked to me about the tragedy of losing sons and husbands, but they also inspired me with their determination to build a better future for themselves and their families, and to claim their rights as individuals and citizens.”
As a result of the visit. Ms. Heyzer said that she and Ms. Kidman were urgently calling for three provisions to safeguard women. “First, governments and armies must put a stop to using rape as a weapon of war. Second, we are asking that all rape victims in war and conflict be compensated. And third, we ask for greater justice for women, including support for witnesses who testify against the perpetrators of crimes against them. Too often these courageous women are victimized twice, once by the crime and then again by the experience of seeking justice.
These issues will be raised by Executive Director Heyzer when she addresses the United Nations Security Council on 26 October on Women, Peace and Security.
Executive Director Heyzer also announced that, together with Ms. Kidman, she is committed to raising additional resources for the UNIFEM-managed UN Trust Fund to Eliminate Violence against Women, to increase support for work in conflict-affected countries and in post-conflict situations. “I hope many others will join with me and UNIFEM to help bring an end to violence everywhere,” Ms. Kidman said.
UNIFEM in Kosovo
UNIFEM established a presence in Kosovo right after the war in 1999 and has since been instrumental in supporting advocacy for women’s rights and participation in economic and political governance, working in close partnership with women’s organizations and with government institutions. UNIFEM works in close cooperation with all other UN agencies present in Kosovo and is taking the lead for a newly developed common UN programme to advance gender equality in which several UN agencies will participate.
UNIFEM work has focused on integrating women’s human rights into legal and institutional foundations, providing technical assistance to the government to advance implementation of the Kosovo Action Plan for the Achievement of Gender Equality and the recently adopted Gender Equality Law.
UNIFEM has continuously supported women’s advocacy for greater participation of women in Kosovo’s peace process, in line with UN Security Council resolution 1325, which stresses women’s essential role in crafting peace agreements and ensuring that they take root. Support to women’s peace activists from across the region and fostering inter-ethnic dialogue among women Kosovo’s Albanian and Serb communities have been an integral part of these efforts.
The third prong of UNIFEM’s work in Kosovo addresses the province’s high rates of unemployment and poverty, both of which are more severe for women than men.
By using a participatory approach in all its activities, UNIFEM encourages collaboration among all sectors and encourages partnerships for effective implementation and sustainability.
For background material, visit www.unifem.org
N.B. Photo material is available at: