[Dateline: New York | Author: iSeek]
Academy Award-winning actress and activist Charlize Theron of South Africa and United States on Monday, 17 November received her designation as United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on ending violence against women.
Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro, on behalf the Secretary-General presented her with the symbolic pin with the dove on it at the Headquarters ceremony.
Ms. Theron was recognized for her work in focusing attention on social issues, particularly in South Africa. She joins nine other UN Messengers of Peace who advocate on behalf of the Organization.
"You have used your voice, compassion and special relationship with the public to create a better world. I am convinced you would be a persuasive and powerful Messenger of Peace," the Secretary-General said in selecting Ms. Theron. Adding: "You have consistently dedicated yourself to improving the lives of women and children in South Africa, and to preventing and stopping violence against women and girls. I look forward to working with you to end this terrible scourge."
Messengers of Peace are individuals with widely recognized talents in the fields of art, film, literature, music and sports, among others, who help to raise worldwide awareness of the Organization’s ideals and work.
Through their public appearances, contacts with the international media and humanitarian efforts, they expand public understanding of the Organization’s work to help improve the lives of people across the world.
The other Messengers of Peace and their areas of focus are: conductor Daniel Barenboim, peace and tolerance; actor George Clooney, peacekeeping; author Paulo Coelho, poverty and intercultural dialogue; actor Michael Douglas, disarmament; primatologist Jane Goodall, conservation and environmental issues; violinist Midori Goto, Millennium Development Goals and youth; Princess Haya Bint al Hussein, Millennium Development Goals and hunger; cellist Yo-Yo Ma , youth; and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, human rights.
Ms. Theron founded the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, in partnership with the Entertainment Industry Foundation, to create a safer, healthier and better life for impoverished children and their families in South Africa, especially those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
In 2007, the project collaborated with Oprah’s Angel Network to provide lead funding for a mobile health and computer clinic designed to improve the health and social development of youth in Umkhanyakude District in South Africa. The project provided about 5,000 students in the remote community with access to counselling and testing for HIV and other health issues, as well as computer training and health education, with a special focus on preventing HIV.
Ms. Theron has also participated in a series of public service announcements in support of the Cape Town Rape Crisis Centre, urging no tolerance for rape and domestic violence.
Born a South African farm girl, Ms. Theron won the 2004 Oscar for Best Actress for her role in the Hollywood drama "Monster", in which she played Aileen Wuornos, a serial killer whose youth was characterized by abuse. In another film, North Country, her character, Josie Aimes, was a woman with a history of domestic abuse who fought back against sexual harassment.
System-wide campaign to end violence against women
The Secretary-General in February launched a multi-year campaign, UNiTE to End Violence against Women, focusing on global advocacy, UN leadership by example and strengthened partnership at the national and regional levels, to end violence against women.
As part of the UN system-wide efforts to raise awareness on violence against women, UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) partnered in October with a US retailer on a campaign dubbed: “Say NO to Violence against Women”, through which UNIFEM hopes to gather 1 million names and signatures by 25 November, to be handed over to the Secretary-General in observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. To date, over 490,000 individuals from all over the world added their names to the campaign. The UNIFEM initiative calls on governments to make ending violence a national priority.
“One in three women and girls will be a victim of violence in her lifetime. To end this pervasive human rights violation, we need strong partnerships,” said UNIFEM Executive Director Inés Alberdi.