NEW YORK, November 26 /PRNewswire/ --

United Nations -- The United Nations Development Fund for Women, UNIFEM, its Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman, and a large number of partners launched an Internet campaign on ending violence against women today. Titled, "Say NO to Violence against Women," the campaign invites people to add their names to a "virtual" book on a web site that has been developed specifically for this purpose: www.saynotoviolence.org. Urging hundreds of thousands -- even millions -- of people around the world to participate, the campaign aims to send a strong message to decision-makers to place ending violence against women high on the global agenda.

"Violence against women is an appalling human rights violation," said UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman. "But it is not inevitable. We can put a stop to this. The more names we collect, the stronger our case to make ending violence against women a top priority for governments everywhere. This is why I was the first to sign my name."

Statistics indicate that as many as one in three women will experience violence in her lifetime. Too often, this violence occurs with impunity for perpetrators and inadequate access to support for survivors. UNIFEM has been a leading advocate for decisive action to address the multiple manifestations of gender-based violence -- whether it be domestic violence, human trafficking or systematic rape in conflict zones. The task continues, however, to be an uphill battle, as fear and shame prevent many women from speaking out.

Joanne Sandler, acting UNIFEM Executive Director, said: "The momentum to address violence against women is increasing. At least 89 countries, for example, have legislative provisions on domestic violence by now. But implementation of these laws is often insufficient due to a lack of political will, capacity and resources. As long as violence is pervasive and women do not dare to accuse their abusers, the issue needs to be much more prominent in public debate."

UNIFEM's Internet campaign is a gateway to information on violence against women, including pointing out ways to get involved. Since resources are critical to tackling the issue, it also highlights the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, through which initiatives in developing countries have received much-needed support, in particular to advance the implementation of laws and policies.

Major civil society organizations representing millions of members, such as World YWCA, Zonta International and the White Ribbon Campaign have come on board as launch partners, as have private sector companies like Avon, and UN partners such as UNICEF.

The campaign will run until 8 March 2008, International Women's Day. It was developed on a pro bono basis by London-based advertising agency Leo Burnett, with additional pro bono support by companies arc, sky, vividas, tsunami, ITN source, MPC, and wave.

Web site: http://www.unifem.org http://www.saynotoviolence.org

Nanette Braun, +1-212-906-6829, nanette.braun@unifem.org, or Letitia Anderson, +1-212-906-6506, letitia.anderson@unifem.org, both of UNIFEM