The deputy head of the United Nations Tuesday highlighted the power of technology to empower women and girls, especially to protect them from violence, and create a safer world for all vulnerable groups.
“Technology has enormous power to highlight and record human rights violations and to raise awareness so that we change mindsets and deal with violence at its roots,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said at an event in New York on harnessing the power of technology to prevent violence against women and girls.
“It will be extremely valuable to hear from the experts here on how we can better use technology to protect women and girls and create a safer world for all vulnerable people,” he told the gathering, which was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Japan to the U.N..
“My message to this meeting today is basic and simple. When we on a large scale help women and girls to reclaim their lives, we and they can and will change the world.”
Eliasson said “a stunning example” of the power of humanity — and of one individual — to meet and overcome violence was seen last week, when the U.N. observed Malala Day.
On 12 July, Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for attending school, joined hundreds of students from more than 80 countries in a Youth Assembly, at which young people issued a global call for quality education for every girl and every boy. It was the first major appearance for the young women, who celebrated her 16th birthday on Friday, nine months after terrorists tried to end her life.
“I was deeply moved,” Eliasson said of the impassioned speech the young girl delivered before the Assembly. “But those of us who were there represented just a fraction of the people touched by her speech.
“Within minutes after she spoke, 24,000 unique accounts tweeted about Malala Day. Countless others also got the word out on social media in ways we cannot measure. Hundreds of millions of people received her message in real time. Long after the event ended, the waves of communications continued to spread.
“This is a clear example of our theme today: the power of technology to bring about positive change,” the Deputy Secretary-General said.
Eliasson also highlighted the Secretary-General’s global campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women, which is successfully mobilizing governments, civil society and other partners to end this global scourge.
Launched in 2008, the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign aims to raise public awareness and increase political will and resources for preventing and ending all forms of violence against women and girls in all parts of the world.
An essential part of this effort is the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. Its grants have already helped 24 million girls and women worldwide. The Secretary-General has set an ambitious goal for the Trust Fund: to award $100 million in grants annually by 2015.
“This would substantially address violence and allow millions of women and girls to reclaim their lives,” Eliasson stated.
“In all of our efforts, we have to answer the call from Malala and the many other women and girls who have suffered violence and abuse,” he added. “Let us remember that they are not only victims. They are also mothers, sisters, teachers, leaders and opinion moulders. Like Malala, these girls and women are our future.
“I count on each of you to continue and strengthen your efforts to end violence against girls and women so that they themselves can help build security, prosperity and equality and dignity for all.”