Dozens of people gathered outside San Francisco City Hall today to commemorate a day dedicated to the elimination of violence toward women and girls.

A news conference, followed by a multi-arts performance in Civic Center Plaza, commemorated the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999.

Supervisor David Campos was among the speakers at today’s event, and said there are “women throughout the world who still live in countries where violence is a part of daily life, something that’s accepted and tolerated, and nothing’s being done.”

The supervisor said “we have to recognize it’s not just in other parts of the world where it’s a problem, it’s here in the United States, and even here in progressive San Francisco, where women are facing this issue.”

Mona Lisa Wallace, president of the San Francisco chapter of the National Organization for Women, cited the recent gang rape of a Richmond High School student as an example of a “culture of violence” that plagues America.

“We all know what happened, we heard about people cell phoning and taking pictures, and not reporting that,” Wallace said. “Why did that happen?”

Mayor Gavin Newsom released a statement about the day, which was read by Kirsten Macauley of the mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.

Newsom said “Our work to end violence against women must be a conscious effort toward the empowerment of women in general,” and that the city must “help heal victims of violence and build a violence-free future for every woman and girl.”

The news conference was followed by a multi-arts performance in Civic Center Plaza titled “They Are All Our Daughters!” that included poets, musicians and dancers.

Women’s activists have marked Nov. 25 as a day of violence after the 1960 assassination of the three Mirabal sisters, who were political activists in the Dominican Republic. The women were ordered to be killed by Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo.

On Dec. 17, 1999, the U.N. General Assembly designated Nov. 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and invited governments and organizations to launch activities to raise public awareness of the problem.

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