Excellencies, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
There are many reasons why I feel so honored to be with you this afternoon.
First, because it is always inspiring to be surrounded by so many committed and determined partners – governments, the United Nations, civil society organizations, representatives of the private sector – all joining hands to end violence against women and girls. Allow me to recognize, in particular, the leadership of UN Women and of its Executive Director in mobilizing energies and resources to put an end to this pandemic, from which no country is immune. Italy included, of course.
Second, because Italy has given high priority to this issue both at the domestic and the international levels. The increasing cases of violence against women and femicide lead the Italian parliament to take action by ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, a groundbreaking international legal instrument that – while defining violence against women as a serious violation of human rights – also lays down specific measures to combat violence against women. Last year we supported our African partners in presenting a resolution at the General Assembly to end female genital mutilation. Together with a cross-regional group of Countries, we recently supported the adoption by the Third Committee of a resolution to seize the General Assembly with the issue of child, early and forced marriage.
Third, because gender-based violence is clearly not only a woman’s issue. Since men are part of the problem, they must also be part of the solution. We need to speak up and act against such violence at every opportunity. We must be at the forefront of the campaign.
Many men in the room will feel the same after hearing the stories in Wounded to Death. Theatre has the power of empathy. It brings us closer to experiences, situations, and stories that we would otherwise never be able to relate to. The monologues you will hear have the power to bring back to life women killed by their partners, their relatives, their colleagues. You can almost see them in front of you.
Also, as the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Emma Bonino, has said, this project also shows the extraordinary results that can be yielded by cooperation between governments and civil society.
We strongly supported the idea of bringing this performance to the United Nations. Because – from time to time – we need to be reminded of what our work is really about. We need to see the human face of our resolutions and commitments. We must refuse to ever be complacent. And we must pledge to never be divided when such major human rights’ issues are at stake.
I wish to conclude with a message of hope. I hope that this day will spur us to action. To adopt laws and to implement them. To end the impunity of perpetrators. To provide services to the victims and survivors. To restore their dignity. To change the cultural attitudes that underlie the acts of violence. To support global grant-making mechanisms such as the UN Trust Fund on Violence against Women, which support civil society organizations around the world.
As Governmental representatives, we have a special responsibility to keep our promises. We have pledged numerous times to end gender-based violence. I hope that by listening to the stories of those who have lost their lives also because we couldn’t live up to our commitments, we will be motivated to take immediate action, here in New York and at home, to put the fight against gender-based violence at the center of the agenda of our Governments. So that these stories will never be repeated.