Statement of Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director, UNIFEM, on the Occasion of Introducing Ms Nicole Kidman as a UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador

By Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Director, UNIFEM

Date: 26 January 2006

Occasion: Introduction of Ms Nicole Kidman as a UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador

Good morning, members of the press, thank you for being with us today.

It is with the greatest pleasure that I introduce Ms Nicole Kidman as UNIFEM’s Goodwill Ambassador. Nicole joins UNIFEM as we are observing our 30th anniversary to help raise awareness on the issues that are of pressing concern to women around the globe and amplify the message that women’s contributions are essential to achieving development and building peaceful and just societies.

When Nicole heard about UNIFEM’s work in Cambodia and contacted us to explore ways of working together, I was naturally delighted; after we had met for the first time, I was impressed. Nicole, I think I can say that today women around the world are able to welcome a sister, who is committed to lend her visibility and voice to making a difference in women’s lives, and who will help build new connections among and for women.

Nicole hardly needs an introduction, of course. Being one of the top actresses of our time, all of us have had the pleasure of enjoying her profound and charismatic performances. Nicole Kidman is an artist whose name is known all over the world; as such, she has the power to reach out to an audience of enormous scale. She is an outstanding representative to join the exclusive circle of UN Goodwill Ambassadors.

From the experience gained in the past 30 years, we at UNIFEM know how much has been achieved in these three decades to improve the situation of women, and we have worked hard to contribute to this progress. We also know, however, how much more still needs to be done. This is particularly true when it comes to violence against women. No less than one in three women — one in three — may experience some form of violence in her lifetime. Whether they are abused at home, raped in war zones or trafficked across borders, nowhere are women safe from this most pervasive human rights violation.

Yet much of this remains invisible, as fear or shame prevent many women from speaking out. Your visibility, Nicole, will be a gift to the hundreds of millions of women whose human rights have been violated, and it will be an inspiration for all those who work tirelessly, away from the spotlight and against many odds, to address this pandemic of violence.

I look very much forward to working with you as UNIFEM’s Goodwill Ambassador in the years to come. We have agreed to travel together and see the efforts underway to end gender-based violence. We will visit initiatives that are supported through the UN Trust Fund to Eliminate Violence against Women, which is managed by UNIFEM.

Every year, grantees of this unique Trust Fund change practices and traditions, improve services to victims, and raise awareness on ways to stop the violence. Unfortunately, the Trust Fund is grossly under-resourced. Last year, for example, we had 40 times more applications than we could award with a grant, which reflects the overall situation of scarce funding for women’s concerns.

This is yet one more reason why much more visibility is needed and I would like to thank you, Nicole, for your commitment of support. I know it will make a big difference.