Charlize Theron unites with the UN
Charlize Theron has been made the United
Nations newest Messenger for Peace, focusing on an issue personal
to her: violence against women
From top: Charlize Theron, new United
Nations Messenger of Peace, addresses a press conference on violence
against women and girls around the globe. Theron receives her pin
from Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro. Giving an interview
on UN Radio.
ANYONE WHO HAS FOLLOWED the career
of one of the silver screens most beautiful women will know
that Charlize Theron has not only portrayed women who have come
from a background of abuse or injustice, but she has witnessed difficulties
within her own home as a child. Her own mother was the victim of
spousal abuse at the hands of an alcoholic husband. This ended in
tragedy when her mother was forced to shoot him to protect the family
when she was 15.
Yesterday, at the United Nations in New York,
Theron was able to leverage her celebrity profile to promote a UN
campaign to end violence against women and girls.
Theron was inducted by Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon to her new role as UN Messenger
for Peace. She told journalists that she would promote the campaigns
cause alongside her acting work and travel.
She said the issue was both dear
to her and disturbing.
Theron said, Being born and raised in a
country like South Africa, it was very evident to me that violence
against women and children was something that wasn’t going to go
away and, as a matter of fact, had just gotten worse.
According to the UN,
one in three women is likely to be beaten or abused in her lifetime,
and one in five will become a victim of rape or attempted rape.
This is not Therons first socially responsible
campaign: she had worked to fight rape in her native South Africa
by working with the Cape Town Rape Crisis Centre in 1999. At the
time, one woman was raped every 26 seconds in South Africa. She
had also founded the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, helping
families and children affected by HIVAids.
I have a great knowledge and understanding
about what was happening in my own home country. My excitement in
working with this wonderful organization is that I am now in a position
to be given access and to really understand the issues in places
[like] Latin America, Asia, she said.
If I knew of something that was bothering
me that I would feel comfortable enough to raise my voice and have
it be heard, that’s my responsibility to myself. I don’t need to
be an ambassador of peace to take that responsibility on,
Theron believes that the UN is of like mind and
hopes she was chosen as a Messenger of Peace because of that and
not her great fashion.
She joins nine other high-profile men and women
who are UN messengers, including her
fellow actors George Clooney and Michael Douglas, author Paulo Coelho,
cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel and HRH
Princess Haya Bint al Hussein of Jordan. •
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