UN HeforShe Team at Brussels 20km

For the fifth year running, the United Nations Team took part in the Brussels 20 kmrace. This year the Team ran in support of the HeForShe solidarity movement, under the banner of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and were joined by the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation, Alexander De Croo.

The Brussels 20 km took place on Sunday 27 May, bringing together runners and joggers from 128 different nationalities. By joining this yearly activity, the UN Team in Belgium contributes to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to standing up for human rights. Together with Deputy Prime Minister De Croo, who is an official champion of the UN Women #HeForShe solidarity movement, the runners highlighted that what men and women share is more powerful than what divides them.

#HeForShe is the UN Women solidarity movement trying to convince men to contribute to a world where gender equality is the rule. At the #HeForShe stand runners and supporters took the opportunity to take immediate action by signing the HeForShe wall and in doing so making a commitment to stand together against sexual harassment and ultimately help achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal number 5.

Alexander De Croo: “I feel privileged to take the lead of the #HeForShe team. It is of utmost importance that boys and men undertake action and contribute to more gender equality. Every voice counts, including the voices of boys and men, because only by breaking the silence, can gender equality become a reality.” Deputy Prime Minister De Croo also fired the starting pistol for the second group of runners, of which he was himself part.

Dagmar Schumacher, Director of UN Women Brussels Office also spoke of the current context: “The recent #metoo and #timesup campaigns triggered waves of support to the movement for more gender equality. HeForShe is about solidarity and we are proud to run as part of this movement”.

As 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this year’s theme also shone a light on gender equality as a human right. “The Universal Declaration says that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Yet gender-based discrimination continues to hold half the world population behind” says Birgit Van Hout, representative of the UN Human Rights Office in Brussels. “By participating in the Brussels 20 km , we are standing up for equality and inclusion. We are calling on everyone to do the same.”

Lastly, the participation of UN staff, partners and friends, also contributed to promoting healthy lives which is at the heart of Sustainable Development Goal number 3. In the spirit of Walk the Talk, a recent WHO initiative, the team is part of a global movement to promote health and particularly physical activity. Physical activity has significant benefits and substantially decreases stress, anxiety and depression and insufficient physical activity is one of the leading risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes yet, globally, 1 in 4 adults is not active enough.

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