7 remarkable women of the UN

Joining powerful goodwill ambassadors like Priyanka Chopra and Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway was recently announced as UN Women’s new goodwill ambassador, supporting the rights of women and girls. In her new role, the actress is highlighting the issue of the gender inequality when it comes to care work in the home, as well as working internationally to advance the implementation of policies to bring change, such as affordable childcare and shared parental leave.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director comments, “The appointment of Anne is timely because this year UN Women is driving hard to foster more positive mindsets and practical arrangements around workplaces that build and support equality for women.”

To mark the announcement, we take a look at some of the other incredible female goodwill ambassadors, and the remarkable work they continue to carry out. 

Angelina Jolie Pitt, Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees

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Angelina Jolie Pitt was appointed as Special Envoy of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 2012, after ten years representing the UNHCR as a Global Goodwill Ambassador. During this time, she carried out more than 40 field visits worldwide, giving a much needed voice to the internally displaced and refugees.

In her role as Special Envoy, she now represents the UNHCR on a diplomatic level, contributing to decisions around global displacement issues. Her work focuses on the major crises that result in mass population displacements.

Nicole Kidman, Women Goodwill Ambassador

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Nicole Kidman was appointed as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2006.

Her work focuses on raising awareness about the infringement of female human rights around the world, paying particular attention to violence against women.

She was spokesperson for the ‘Say NO-UNiTE To End Violence Against Women’ campaign, an initiative which proclaimed the 25th of every month as ‘Orange Day’ – a day devoted to raising awareness of and preventing violence against women.

Emma Watson, Women Goodwill Ambassador

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Emma was appointed as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2014, and her work focuses on the empowerment of young women.

She is an advocate of the HeForShe campaign, an initiative that looks to promote gender equality.

In September 2014, at the age of just 24, Emma made a powerful speech at the United Nations Headquarters, where she invited people to ‘step forward, to be seen, to speak up, to be the ‘he’ for ‘she.’ Her closing remark still rings strong today: ‘Ask yourself, if not me, who? If not now, when?’

HRH Princess Bajrakitiyabha, Women Goodwill Ambassador

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Her Royal Highness Princess Bajrakitiyabha Mahidol of Thailand was appointed as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2008.

Since this time, she has given remarkable visibility to UN women in Thailand, and has succeeded in uniting multiple stakeholders around the cause of ending violence against women.

As a result of her hard work, Thailand collected over 3 million names for UN Women’s global ‘Say NO To Violence Against Women’ campaign.

Whoopi Goldberg, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

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Whoopi Goldberg was appointed as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2003, and her work has focused on helping to relieve the burden of HIV/AIDS on children and their communities around the world.

She made numerous public service announcements following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which, alongside her vocal support for the ‘Unite for Children, Unite Against Aids’ campaign, have come to serve as effective fundraising tools for UNICEF.

Shakira Mebarak, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

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Shakira became UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2003.

She is the founder of both the Pies Descales Foundation, which provides education to displaced and underprivileged children in her native Colombia, and the Barefoot Foundation, which advocates for universal access to education across the globe.

She is also a co-founder of ALAS, a movement of Latin American artists and businesspeople dedicated to early childhood development interventions.

In her time as Goodwill Ambassador, Shakira has expanded these child advocacy efforts on a global level, increasing awareness of UNICEF’s work in education, as well as HIV/AIDS and child protection.

Priyanka Chopra, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

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Other than her work for children’s education in India, UNICEF’s 2016 appointee as goodwill ambassador, Priyanka Chopra, has recently spent time visiting Syrian refugees in Jordan (where she also met with Queen Rania). “Reading about the situation and seeing images still never fully prepares you to experience firsthand the situation of the Syrian refugees. These are people whose lives have been in a constant state of uncertainty for seven years now with no immediate solution in sight,” she said in a statement. “And in the middle of this, for no fault of their own, is an entire generation of children who are being shaped by violence and displacement, resulting in an astonishing lack of education and opportunity. This makes this generation vulnerable on so many level.” 

Earlier this year, she also visited Harare in Zimbabwe where she met with young survivors of sexual abuse.  


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