UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations has launched a campaign to persuade men to stand up for the rights of their mothers, sisters and daughters.

"Throughout the world, discrimination against women and girls is rampant, and in some cases getting worse. But we also know equality for women is progress for all,” Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the launch of the “He for She” campaign to mark the International Women’s Day.

He also appealed to men and boys of the world: join us, “Where men and women have equal rights, societies prosper."

The launch featured video clips of prominent men urging support for gender equality, including Mr Ban, Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu and actor Antonio Banderas.

"I commend those of you [men and boys] who have spoken out and stand with women and girls, as you know women hold half of the sky. We call on all men also, stand up and hold up half of their part of the sky,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women told participants after jokingly telling them, “This is a celebration, so don't look so serious."

In a message to observe the IWD, UN chief noted that a baby girl born today will still face inequality and discrimination, no matter where her mother lives. As such, the international community has a common obligation to ensure her right to live free from the violence; to earn equal pay for equal work; to be free of the discrimination; to have an equal say in the decisions that affect her life; and to decide if and when she will have children, and how many she will have.

"I have a message for every girl born today, and to every woman and girl on the planet: Realizing human rights and equality is not a dream, it is a duty of Governments, the United Nations and every human being,” said Mr Ban, similarly adding: “I also have a message for my fellow men and boys: play your part. All of us benefit when women and girls - your mothers, sisters, friends and colleagues -can reach their full potential."

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