U.N. goodwill ambassador Nicole Kidman announced Tuesday that millions of people have joined a campaign to fight violence against women, saying the issue must remain a global priority.
The Australian star became a goodwill ambassador two years ago for the U.N. Development Fund for Women — a role said has added meaning to her life — and has spent the past year promoting anti-violence.
To mark Tuesday’s International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women, Kidman said she presented U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with list of signatures from some of the 5,066,549 people who signed on to the campaign.
Ban called for greater efforts to enforce laws protecting women and prosecute perpetrators as well as stepped up efforts “to combat attitudes and behavior that condone, tolerate, excuse or ignore violence committed against women.”
“In too many places, rape still carries a stigma that forces women to avoid the courts that should exist to protect them,” he said.
UNIFEM Executive Director Ines Alberdi said the campaign’s supporters include 29 world leaders, 188 ministers and over 600 parliamentarians as well as celebrities such as Catherine Deneuve, Hillary Swank and Bob Geldorf.
At a news conference, Kidman spoke of her background and how it helped prepare her the goodwill ambassador role.
“I think in some ways I’ve always been heading towards wanting to put some meaning into my life and this is probably how I see myself doing it,” said Kidman, who was in town for the premiere of her film “Australia.”
“The reason I chose the subject of women is because I was raised by a mother who was very passionate about ... having her daughters educated, and wanted her daughters to have an equal opportunity,” she said.
“I was the product of that, and now I’m out there hoping to pass on to the next generation and work in a greater capacity then just as an actress,” Kidman said.
She was asked by a young grade-school reporter who also attended the news conference how girls can become educated about abuse and protect themselves from it.
Kidman replied that it was “very, very important” to talk about the issue.
“This conversation that we are having helps families to then discuss,” Kidman said. “It needs to be discussed in schools, and young girls and young boys need to be educated. So I’m glad you’re here.”