"One in three women will encounter violence in some way, shape or form against them in their lifetime," Kidman told a news conference at U.N. headquarters. "That's an extraordinary statistic. Yet do we ever hear it?"
The 40-year-old Australian star became a goodwill ambassador in January 2006 for the U.N. Development Fund for Women, known as UNIFEM. Its acting executive director, Joanne Sandler, said Kidman wanted to focus on an issue "where she could make a difference."
She came to U.N. headquarters Tuesday to join Sandler, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro and U.N. Foundation President Timothy Wirth to promote UNIFEM's "Say NO to Violence Against Women Campaign."
Since the yearlong campaign was launched Nov. 26, Sandler said some 210,000 people have added their names to a Web page calling on world leaders to end impunity for perpetrators, provide services for survivors and, most important, invest in prevention.
Kidman urged people of all nations to add their names and demand "that ending violence against women be made a top priority for governments everywhere." She also encouraged the private sector to contribute to the U.N. Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, which provides grants for programs in the developing world to help fight the scourge.
In January, the U.N. Foundation said it would donate $1 to the fund for each of the first 100,000 signatures -- and Wirth said he was happy to pay up.
Sandler said progress has been made: 89 countries have laws on domestic violence, more than 100 have made rape a crime, 90 have provisions against sexual harassment, and 93 on human trafficking. There are 192 U.N. member states.
Kidman is expecting her first child with country singer husband Keith Urban.
In 2005, she starred in the movie "The Interpreter," a thriller in which she played a U.N. interpreter caught up in a cloak-and-dagger assassination attempt.