Friday, March 8th, 2013
In her lifetime, 1 in 3 women will be beaten or coerced into sex by her partner or husband, and quite often in her own home. As I type, I wonder how many women reading this are personally affected by domestic violence. If you are, you can get help immediately by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-999-SAFE. There are people ready to help you 24 hours a day, every single day.
The Avon Foundation for Women—which is best known for its work fighting breast cancer—is a major advocate for women suffering from domestic violence. Today is International Women’s Day, and to help commemorate it, yesterday the Foundation held its second Communications Awards ceremony. The Avon Foundation recognized non-governmental organizations from Pakistan, Tanzania, Nepal, Peru, and a governmental organization from the Ukraine, for their innovative communications campaigns that are helping change communities, policies, institutions, and behaviors to end violence against women. The awards were presented at the United Nations Headquarters during the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, and among the impressive list of speakers and presenters was actress Salma Hayek.
“I just presented at the Academy Awards a few weeks ago, and I wasn’t half as nervous or scared as I am now,” she confessed. “But I also wasn’t half as excited.” Domestic violence is a cause very close to Hayek’s heart; she’s been advocating for victims since she was a 17-year-old in Mexico, she explained. And in 2004, she went to Avon with a suggestion: How about printing the National Domestic Violence Hotline number in all of the Avon product catalogs? Avon did that, and much more, and since then the Avon Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program has donated nearly $50 million globally to end violence against women. Hayek got choked up when she said of all of her accomplishments, that simple idea is one of the things she is most proud of in her life.
Among yesterday’s winners was a weekly radio program in Nepal that incorporates the experiences of 12 women “community reporters” who have survived violence themselves and talk about issues that are normally taboo. Another was a campaign from the Government of Ukraine aimed at men, primarily during the 2012 Euro Football Cup, spreading the message that violence against women needs to end. It was incredibly uplifting to be in the presence of these advocates from all over the globe, and to know that there are so many people devoted to making sure that horrendous 1-in-3 statistic is a thing of the past.
If you want to help Avon in its quest, one simple way is to buy the Avon Empowerment Charm Necklace. It’s only $5, and $3.80 of that goes directly to the Foundation’s programs. The charm features the infinity symbol–in part to represent a woman’s infinite possibilities when she lives in a world free of violence.