UNITED NATIONS — Academy Award winners Nicole Kidman and Mira Sorvino urged an end to violence against women at a concert Wednesday night to support the U.N. agency that promotes equality for women and an end to attacks against millions of women and girls.
General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar brought the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra to the U.N. to celebrate his leadership of the 193-member world body this year and dedicated the concert to supporting UN Women, which came into existence in 2010.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the crowd that "more than half of all women will be victims of violence in their lifetime – beatings, sexual abuse, even murder."
Al-Nasser said U.N. member states have committed to raising $100 million by 2015 for its trust fund to combat violence against women.
He announced that already this year "generous donations" have been made by Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Libya, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, South Africa, and Switzerland.
But Michelle Bachelet, the former Chilean president who heads U.N. Women, said the fund can only meet 5 percent of the more than $1 billion requested to support life-saving programs around the world.
Sorvino, the U.N. goodwill ambassador to combat human trafficking, told hundreds of concertgoers that even in the "civilized" United States, "one out of three women will be raped or assaulted in her lifetime – and I personally believe this number to be conservative because of the shame admitting to sexual and physical abuse brings."
Kidman said in a video that until she became the goodwill ambassador for UN Women, she had no idea about "this gross violation of women's human rights." She said she has since met women who have suffered horrific abuse.
"Yet what has inspired me time and again is how they set their goals to overcome the trauma and help others," she said. "My message today is your support counts. Let survivors of violence know that they can count on you."