Nations pledge global solidarity to end gender-based violence

Suring special screening of award-winning documentary 'Son Rise' at Expo 2020 Dubai

  • New Zealand Pavilion, India Pavilion, United Nations at Expo and Women’s Pavilion lead global call to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in support of UN Women’s ‘Orange the World’ initiative

United Arab Emirates, Dubai :  On Friday, 26th November, dignitaries of the New Zealand Pavilion, the India Pavilion, the Women’s Pavilion, and the United Nations at Expo hosted a screening of India’s National award-winning documentary ‘Son Rise’ in support of UN Women’s ‘Orange the World’ initiative. Running from 25 November to 10 December, the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence is amplifying the call for global action to end the pandemic of violence, made worse by COVID-19.

The event, which took place at Expo’s Jubilee Stage, brought together the diplomatic community, business leaders, cultural figures, academics and change-makers to spotlight a shared human rights and women’s rights issue — violence against women.  According to UN Women, all types of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, has intensified since the outbreak of COVID-19, becoming what it now terms a ‘shadow pandemic’.

Headlining the event was the screening of the path-breaking, multi-award-winning documentary ‘Son Rise’ by film director and producer Vibha Bakshi. The 45-minute film showcases ordinary men who are taking on the ‘extraordinary’ fight against patriarchy and changing the narrative on gender injustice globally.

In a video in support of the screening, Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Foreign Affairs for New Zealand commented: “Aotearoa New Zealand is committed to improving gender equality. One hundred and twenty-eight years ago, we became the first country to grant women the right to vote and in 2018, we passed major legislation to keep family violence victims safe and hold perpetrators accountable. Our National Action Plan on Human Rights also addresses family violence as a human rights issue. Today, we have an opportunity here at Expo 2020 Dubai to come together and form meaningful partnerships that can positively impact global action and change in the pursuit of gender equality and justice.”

Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai and Deputy Commissioner General India at Expo 2020 said, "We are proud to join the presentation of the highly acclaimed and Indian National Award-winning documentary ‘Son Rise’ at Expo 2020 Dubai. The documentary that champions a gender equal society has dealt with this sensitive subject remarkably well. I congratulate the producer and director of ‘Son Rise’, Ms. Vibha Bakshi for bringing forward extraordinary tales of courage and strength and helping raise awareness on women empowerment at this global platform.”

On behalf of the Women’s Pavilion, Hind Alowais, Senior vice-president of International Participants Department at Expo said, “The Women’s Pavilion by Expo 2020 in collaboration with Cartier is proud to support the screening of ‘Son Rise’ reaffirming Expo’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment.  By welcoming visitors from across the planet and from every walk of life, Expo 2020 Dubai is a unique and powerful platform that will drive the necessary attention to this issue.”

The screening was followed by a call to action for Ambassadors, Commissioner-Generals and Heads of Diplomatic Missions based in the UAE, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder on the world stage, and call for an end to violence against women and promote a safer, more equitable world. 

“Violence against women and girls is a global reality from which no country is immune. Violence is driven by the erroneous notion that women and girls are not equal to their male counterparts and do not deserve the same opportunities, rights, dignity, and control over their own bodies and reproductive health. Vibha Bakshi's ground-breaking film 'Son Rise', flips this narrative, by showing the strength of ordinary men to counter harmful ideologies and practices with new ideas that have the power to ignite an extraordinary global movement for change,” said Maher Nasser, United Nations Commissioner-General for the UN Presence at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The film is also being showcased across 71 countries as part of the UN’s #HeForShe global movement to engage men in removing the social and cultural barriers that prevent women and girls from achieving their potential.

Vibha Bakshi said: “I am deeply inspired to see the world unite at Expo 2020 Dubai and come together in solidarity for gender equality. This momentous event led by the incredible commitment of New Zealand, India, United Nations and Women’s Pavilion is a solid step towards a safer and more equitable world.  I am confident that every audience member present at this global platform is our future Ambassador of Change.”

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. It was started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership. It is used as an organising strategy by individuals and organisations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

For more information about the New Zealand Pavilion and events at Expo 2020 Dubai, visit   


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Expo 2020 Dubai is the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa or South Asia region.  191 nations will participate in Expo 2020 with country pavilions that will showcase achievements, creativity, and innovations.     

Connecting Minds, Creating the Future is the overall theme for Expo 2020, with three thematic districts:  Mobility, Opportunity, and Sustainability.     

Expo 2020 was postponed, due to Covid-19, and will now run from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. 


(Hon) Dr. Vibha Bakshi is a critically acclaimed, multi-award-winning film director and producer, who has unleashed global movements of change on the ground. She is the recipient of four National Film Awards, awarded by the President of India. This is the highest recognition in Indian cinema. She has been conferred the Honorary Doctorate, Doctor of Humane Letters from her alma mater Boston University, USA for her work as a filmmaker and journalist. Vibha's latest film SON RISE is a path-breaking award-winning documentary that is knocking down patriarchy the world over. The film is the winner of the prestigious National Film Award - Best Film (non-feature) awarded by the President of India. The film has been selected to be showcased as part of the UN's global HeForShe movement across 71 priority countries. Vibha's previous groundbreaking National award-winning documentary 'Daughters of Mother India' put the spotlight on the burning issue of rape and gender violence. The film holds the distinction of being THE MOST AWARDED SOCIAL CAMPAIGN IN THE WORLD – Global Creative Index 2017. Vibha is co-Producer with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Maryann Deleo for films including: 'Terror at Home', a film which was part of the United States Government’s Emmy Award-winning campaign to Stop Violence Against Women for Lifetime TV and 'Too Hot NOT to Handle', HBO’s highly acclaimed film on Global Warming

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