International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Press release: A global call to “Orange YOUR Neighbourhood” galvanizes communities to stop violence against women

Iconic New York buildings lit in orange as beacons of a bright future

Date: 24 November 2014

The UN Secretariat building (left) and the Empire State Building (right) set aglow in orange the evening of 24 November ahead of the International Day to End Violence against Women. Photo: Ryan Brown
The UN Secretariat building (left) and the Empire State Building (right) were set aglow in orange on 24 November ahead of the International Day to End Violence against Women, 25 November. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

New York — A United Nations call to “Orange YOUR Neighbourhood” kicks off tomorrow with people around the world displaying the colour to symbolize hope for a future free from violence against women and girls.

Watch our vine from the UN lighting ceremony

Tonight, for the first time ever, both the iconic Empire State Building and UN Headquarters in New York will shine in orange light. In Times Square, one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions, the NASDAQ and Reuters Tower screens will flash the colour along with anti-violence messages on 25 November, the International Day to End Violence against Women.

“We need this eye-catching colour everywhere so that the message is loud and clear: we all need to work together to stop violence against women and girls right now,” says UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “That includes men and boys standing up for what’s right and working with us and the women’s movement to tackle gender inequality. We have to end this universal violation of human rights. We know what works; now we are insisting on the commitment of political action and commensurate resources to that agenda.”

Watch our vine from the commemoration

“Orange YOUR Neighbourhood” is part of the UN Secretary-General’s campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women. The theme will carry through related events during the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, which run between 25 November and 10 December, Human Rights Day. This year’s commemoration will be marked by a clarion call to partners to demonstrate their support to end this pandemic that affects one billion women. People will tie orange ribbons on landmarks. Marchers dressed in orange will raise awareness and discuss community-wide solutions. 

One of the biggest events of the Latin American region is a marathon in Mexico City, the result of a partnership between UN Women and TV Azteca, one of the region’s top media groups. In Africa, among a series of creative initiatives, a film forum will be hosted in Uganda screening stories focusing on the experiences of women's lives, and a collaborative venture with Talk Radio 702 in South Africa, will promote zero tolerance for gender-based violence. In Asia-Pacific, public spaces in India will turn orange to promote awareness among local communities, and youth champions in Cambodia will take anti-violence messages online to galvanize action through social media. In the Arab States region, several activities are planned, many with a special focus on violence against women in Gaza. High-profile events in Eastern Europe and Central Asia include a series of awareness-raising forums in Kosovo (under UN Security Council Resolution 1244) on the violence that young girls face in high schools, and more than 100 events in Kyrgyzstan engaging Members of Parliament, government officials, donors, and civil society. 

As part of the mobilization by partners, influential media outlets and their journalists are expected to show personal commitment to the cause by symbolically using orange in their studios or in their attire, urging audiences to do their part to end violence against women and girls. Partnerships with the private sector will also play a catalytic role this year. Coinciding with the International Day, United Colors of Benetton is launching a campaign which will contribute to increasing awareness.

Watch the Benetton ad campaign video:

Erik Ravelo, Head of Social Engagement Campaigns of Fabrica (Benetton Group’s communications research centre) and creative director of the campaign, said: “We have always focused on socially responsible communication initiatives and are happy to lend our creativity as part of efforts to raise awareness on the issue of violence against women: we chose a flower instead of a stone to say no to a human rights violation that causes permanent physical and emotional scars and that is reflected in all social classes.”

Despite recent progress in many countries to stop violence, gaps remain, with devastating consequences. Around the world, women are beaten in their homes, harassed on the streets and bullied on the Internet. One in three women experiences physical or sexual violence at some point in her life – mostly by an intimate partner. Among all women killed in 2012, nearly half died at the hands of a partner or family member. Far too often, crimes go unpunished and perpetrators walk free.

A critical juncture has been reached with global recognition that violence against women and girls is a serious but solvable problem. Momentum is growing as the world gears up in 2015 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, as well as the end of the Millennium Development Goals and the framing of a bold new global development agenda.

“Together we must make 2015 the year that marks the beginning of the end of gender inequality,” Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka added. “Now is the time for action.”

The official commemoration of the International Day to end Violence against women will take place at UN Headquarters on 25 November  from 10.30 a.m. – 12 noon. It will be attended by Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General; Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative, United Arab Emirates; Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women; Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, UNFPA; Chirlane McCray, First Lady, New York City; actresses Teri Hatcher and Danai Gurira. Watch the live webcast at

Photos from the events will be available at:

Join the conversation: Follow @SayNO_UNiTE and share your messages using the hashtags #orangeurhood and #16days.

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