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Women hold up half the sky

Posted: Wednesday, 16 September 2009, New York | Author: UNODC

UN holds a Panel Discussion on "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" | (Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider) The Secretary-General called for action to protect women against abuses and discrimination this week in New York at a panel discussion and book signing ceremony for Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide , a book by Pulitzer Prize winners Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

The full event, organized by the  United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UN Bookshop , is available for viewing online .

"Violence against women stands against everything in the United Nations Charter . Whichever form it takes, it is an abomination. Human trafficking, sex slavery, domestic violence, institutionalized discrimination - all of this must end. So must the silence that is so prevalent and that serves only to shield the perpetrators and perpetuate their crimes," said Secretary-General BAN ( full remarks ).

"We are striving to improve maternal health and to better protect women and children during times of conflict. And we are committed to engaging men, for we will never fully empower women without changing attitudes and stereotypes," he added.

In the book, Mr. Kristof and Ms. WuDunn plead for a worldwide grassroots movement in support of the women of the world, their education, health (with a strong emphasis on reproductive health), economic and political empowerment, and human rights.

Stories of women overcoming appalling circumstances such as violence and degradation of sex trafficking, sexual enslavement, and rape to change their world constitute the core of the book.

UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said, "Sexist attitudes lead to sexual exploitation. Whether its burkas or bikinis, the portrayal and treatment of women as either property or sex objects is an affront to human dignity and creates both the supply and demand of women and girls who are traded like commodities. But changing laws and business practices is not enough. We must change attitudes."

Mr. Kristof and Ms. WuDunn are the first married couple to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism for their coverage of China as New York Times correspondents. Kristof won a second Pulitzer Prize for his op-ed columns in the New York Times.

UNODC is the lead UN agency fighting all forms of human trafficking.

UNODC works with governments, the private sector, and NGOs to combat human trafficking by raising public awareness, engaging in preventative activities and enhancing the capacity and skills of criminal justice professionals and policymakers.

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