Launch of the “Orange the World” Campaign at the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens

Since 2015 the “Orange the World” campaign takes place during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based violence. From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day the world’s most prominent monuments and buildings light up in the color orange to raise awareness and to represent a brighter future, free from violence against women and girls.

In Austria, the campaign is executed in a collaborative effort by the UN Women National Comittee Austria, Soroptimist International Austria, and HeForShe Graz. During the 16 days over 70 famous buildings and monuments will be illuminated in orange, ensuring that every region of Austria pays tribute to the cause. This year, the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens joined forces and hosted the launch of the campaign on 21 November.

Co-Chair Heinz Fischer opened the event with a keynote about the history of women’s rights activism in Austria. 2018 is a symbollic year for the status of women for Austria, as it marks the 100th anniversary of female suffrage. Furthermore, our Co-Chair stressed that the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence serve to prepare ourselves to stand strong against violence against women during the entire year.

Co-Chair Ban Ki-moon surprised the guests of the event, congratulating them on their contributions to the campaign in a video message:

Violence against women and girls takes many forms and is still widespread throughout the globe. It includes rape, domestic violence, harassment at work, abuse in school, female genital mutilation and sexual violence in armed conflicts. It is predominantly inflicted by men.

He continued,

It fills me with joy and pride that Austria, my second home, will shine bright in orange during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence and will stand strong in the fight against violence against women.

Subsequently, Desiree Schweitzer, president of the Austrian UN Women National Comittee and Head of Development Cooperation in the Austrian Foreign Ministry, and Marcella Sigmund-Graff, president of Soroptimist International Austria, empasized the importance of continued activism against violence against women, pointing to the fact that every thrid woman world wide suffers from sexual or physical violence at least once in her life.

In the end, Ban Ki-moon Centre CEO Monika Fröhler interviewed Anja Weisi-Michelitsch and Dr. Matthias Beitl, who will participate in the campaign by illuminating the Vienna based Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art and several smaller museums in the rural areas of the Austrian region Styria.

Guests were also able to enjoy musical interludes by violinist Sophia Hahn and pianist Richard Reiter.

This year, the theme of “Orange the World” is #HearMeToo. UN Women writes:

in recent months we have reached a tipping point, in large part due to the determination and bravery of grassroots activists and survivors and global social media conversation such as “#MeToo”, “#TimesUp”, “#BalanceTonPorc” “#NiUnaMenos”, #MetooIndia and “HollaBack!”. At the same time, we are experiencing a concerted pushback against women’s rights, human rights defenders and a shrinking civic space that threatens the progress achieved so far. Both trends point to one reality: no country, no organization is immune to sexual harassment and violence, and women and girls from all corners of the world still experience gender-based violence and abuse.

The Ban Ki-moon Centre is looking forward to an impactful campaign, not only in Austria, but worldwide. Only together we can achieve a gender-just world.

Photo: © Yazan Majananini

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