Film star and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador Antonio Banderas today launched a global video appeal to end violence against women in recognition of International Women's Day.
"Up to 60 percent of women around the world experience some form of physical or sexual abuse during their life, and as many as half of all sexual assaults are committed against girls under the age of 16," Banderas says in his video address. "Two million women and girls are trafficked each year into prostitution, forced labour, slavery, or servitude. Young women and girls are often particularly vulnerable to early marriage, female genital mutilation and HIV - putting their health and rights at risk. This is unacceptable, and it must stop now."
Banderas also calls on men to join him in standing up to violence directed at women and girls. "Stand up to end violence against women, now," he concludes.
This year's theme for International Women's Day is "A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women."
In 1995, at the Fourth World Conference for Women, governments identified violence against women as a violation of human rights and an "obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of equality, development and peace."
Antonio Banderas, born in Málaga, Spain, is a much acclaimed actor, writer and producer. Banderas is one of eight other UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors: footballers Ronaldo de Lima, Zinedine Zidane, Didier Drogba, Iker Casillas, and the world's number one female football player, Marta Vieira da Silva; tennis player Maria Sharapova; Japanese actress Misako Konno; and HRH Haakon Crown Prince of Norway.