‘They count on us; we count on you’
At the UN Trust Fund’s first-ever awards ceremony, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman was among three advocates recognized for their efforts to end violence against women.
Date: 27 November 2013
The message at the first-ever awards ceremony of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women was simple: “they count on us; we count on you.” Organized by the Trust Fund, the ceremony put a spotlight on ground-breaking initiatives that address the crucial needs of survivors of gender-based violence around the world and recognized individuals who have dedicated their lives to the cause.
The reception also launched the Trust Fund’s fundraising drive for 2014, with a goal to raise USD 16 million.
The ceremony, which was moderated by Emmy award-winning ABC news correspondent Juju Chang, highlighted the outstanding efforts of three individuals: UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman, for her extensive global efforts to end violence against women; Founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation actress Mariska Hargitay, for her exemplary contribution to national efforts, and Co-Executive Director of CONNECT, Quentin Walcott, for his ground-breaking efforts at a local level.
Attending the event were grantees of the Fund, permanent representatives of UN Member States, representatives of private companies and foundations, among others, many clad in orange in response to the UN Secretary General's UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign's global call to “Orange the World in 16 days.”
UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri, who presented the awards, said that in its 17 years of existence, the UN Trust Fund has supported many innovative projects and has awarded USD 95 million to 368 initiatives in 132 countries, touching the lives of nearly 6 million people. She added that the Fund recently announced USD 8 million in new grants to 17 initiatives that are expected to reach 2.3 million beneficiaries between 2014 and 2017.
A representative of current grantee the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Ciarán Donnelly, Acting Vice-President for Programme Quality, said that in Sierra Leone, crucial Trust Fund support has enabled IRC to strengthen legal and judicial options for survivors by working with community leaders, skilled paralegals and police to help women make formal complaints and increase the quality of response by the police. “This means a visible challenge to perpetrators and reassurance that violence against women is not a private matter,” he said.
The awards ceremony began by honouring Ms. Kidman, UN Women Goodwill Ambassador who has helped raise funds for programmes that address violence against women and girls. Speaking through a video message, she said: “It is an outrage that violence against women continues to be a part of the daily reality for millions of women and girls. It is a reality we must not accept.” Since the demand for the UN Trust Fund far exceeds the funding available, she emphasized: “Your support counts. Please let survivors of violence know that they can count on you.”
The awardee for outstanding national efforts to end violence against women was Ms. Hargitay, founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation which aims to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. Through her role as Detective Olivia Benson in NBC’s popular Law and Order: Special Victims Unit television series, Ms. Hargitay was inspired by the courage of survivors and established her own foundation.
Ms. Sukey Novogratz, Board Member of the Joyful Heart Foundation, accepted the award on her behalf, noting: “I know the importance of giving women and girls a better chance in accessing healing and justice. For Mariska, and all of us at Joyful Heart, we are grateful for your work to make the world a place where women and girls are safe, equal and powerful.”
Violence against women and girls can be pervasive not only in the developing world, but also in the most developed countries, emphasized awardee Mr. Walcott, Co-Executive Director of CONNECT, a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and elimination of interpersonal violence in New York City. A local anti-violence activist and educator, he has pioneered the development of New York City programmes aimed at transforming bystanders, many of them men and boys, including perpetrators, into allies and activists.
“It’s important that the UN recognizes local efforts and communities that are preventing violence and developing effective intervention programmes and projects,” said Mr. Walcott.