A visitor walks toward a statue of a slave breaking from bondage, near Leon Ba beach in Gabon's capital, Libreville, Jan. 23, 2012. The Gabonese coast was the center of the trans-Atlantic slave trade during the 16th century. Reuters

The United Nations will honor the victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade Wednesday with a permanent memorial at its New York headquarters. The memorial, titled "The Ark of Return," will mark the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

“It is absolutely vital that the dangers inherent in racism are made crystal clear to all,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The Ark of Return will bring home to people around the world the terrible legacy of the slave trade. It will help us to heal as we remember the past and honor the victims.”

The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade remembers the estimated 15 million men, women and children who were victims of the largest forced migration in history. This year will focus on enslaved women who passed on their African culture in new countries. “Women slaves played a key role in maintaining the dignity of their communities. Too often their leadership and brave resistance have been underestimated or forgotten,” said Ban.

A live stream of the event can be found here. Earlier this month, the U.N. opened an exhibit called "Women & Slavery: Telling Their Stories" at its headquarters in honor of the Day of Remembrance. The exhibit runs through April 9 and is open to the public.

"Not only did enslaved women endure the harsh conditions of forced labor, they were also victims of sexual exploitation," said Cristina Gallach, under-secretary-general for communications and public information, in a statement. "Yet somehow, these remarkable women found the inner reserves and the strength to cope and to fight back against an inconceivably cruel and inhuman system."