UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman urges equal rights for womenAcceptance speech by UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman upon being receiving the Variety Magazine Award at the Power of Women luncheon in Hollywood, 4 October, 2013.
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I am proud to represent UN Women on this wonderful occasion. Thank you Variety and Lifetime for acknowledging the work done by this important organization. Simply put, UN Women works so that half of humanity--women--can finally enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men.
I became involved because I was raised by a feminist mother who planted the seed early in me to speak out against the fact that women are so often treated differently than men. She was very clear with me: she said stand tall, do not settle for less than what is fair. Discriminating against more than 50 per cent of the population just because they are female is terribly unfair.
But it is also not very smart.
We know that when women have money, they invest more in their children, and therefore in our future. But in many countries, women cannot own land and have no access to credit. And almost everywhere they earn less than men for the same work. We also know that where women have a say in politics, they put more emphasis on social issues, on education and the environment. But only one in five Parliamentarians worldwide is female. And by the way: companies --and this includes the film and television industry, of course-- with more women in management positions turn a significantly higher profit. Only 21 women, however, lead Fortune 500 companies.
UN Women is a smart organization, and I have seen with my own eyes what they can do: they go and work directly with women in countries around the world. They support women to get elected into office and help them to have viable options to earn a living for themselves and their children. Right now, in conflict zones like Syria, where women and children are particularly affected, UN Women is rendering much-needed assistance to respond to women’s humanitarian needs. UN Women supports women in Syria and elsewhere to make their voices heard.
I have also seen UN Women address what to me is the greatest injustice and outrage of all: violence against women. No matter how long I devote my time to this, I will never be able to comprehend and I will never accept that one in three women and girls will be raped, beaten or otherwise abused in their lifetime. UN Women supports local organizations, right at the grassroots, to provide shelter and support for survivors of violence. It works to change laws so that there can be no impunity for violence and it works with youth to prevent violence from happening in the first place.
I am asking you today: join me in advocating for women’s rights, wherever you are, whatever you do. Support UN Women to fulfill its mission and vision of a world in which women can live free from discrimination and violence.