Football unites politicians to end violence against women

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-9-27 16:35:59

Bolivian President Evo Morales, and top officials and ambassadors to the U.N. on Thursday took time out during the ongoing annual high-level debate of the U.N. General Assembly to play a football match to support Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's campaign UNITE to End Violence Against Women.

Wearing dark blue, the U.N. Development Program's color, and orange, the UNITE campaign color, more than 20 top officials -- including the foreign minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Nicola Poposki, and two women members of parliament from Norway, Karin Andersen and Lene Vagslid -- ran through the Roosevelt Island Soccer Field, close to the U.N. headquarters in New York.

They were joined by the ambassador of Austria to the U.N. and diplomats from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Lichtenstein and the United States.

Poposki and Vagslid's orange team clinched the match 7-6 against President Morales and Andersen's blue team.

"Football is a global passion and a great way to win hearts and minds, conveying the message that 'real men don't hit'," said U.N. assistant secretary-general and UNDP director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Heraldo Munoz, highlighting some daunting statistics from the region where two out of three women have suffered domestic violence at some point in life.

Munoz was match organizer and orange team captain.

"Leadership and political determination are critical to end violence against women, and action and resources need to follow," said the U.N. under-secretary-general and UNDP associate administrator, Rebeca Grynspan.

"Governments must lead by example, showing zero tolerance to all forms of gender violence and adopting and enforcing laws to address and punish all forms of violence against women and girls, in line with international human rights standards," Grynspan.

Grynspan kicked off the match with U.N. Assistant-Secretary-General and U.N. Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri, using SOCCKET -- a ball that generates electricity when kicked -- calling for innovative solutions to bring sustainable energy for all.

"Let's seize this opportunity to strike a goal against violence and for women's rights and gender equality," Puri said. "A goal that can bring real and transformative change to women's lives and usher lasting progress in the context of the Millennium Development Goals and the Post-2015 development agenda."

Worldwide, up to 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against young women and girls under the age of 16. More than half of the 25 countries with the highest rates of female murders (femicide) are in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to Small Arms Survey's 2012 report.

Nearly 650 women were killed in El Salvador in 2011, 375 in Guatemala, and femicide is the second leading cause of death of women aged 15-49 in Honduras. Moreover, femicide has one of the highest rates of impunity in the region.

The United Nations works with governments, parliaments and civil society organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean to develop laws and implement public policies that guarantee gender equality and women's rights.

Following a U.N.-led initiative, the region is advancing towards the adoption of the regional Protocol for Investigating Gender-related Deaths, U.N. officials said.

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