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Charlize Theron unites with the UNCharlize 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



ANYONE WHO HAS FOLLOWED the career of one of the silver screen’s 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 campaign’s 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 Theron’s 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 HIV–Aids.

‘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,’ she added.

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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