UN suffers backlash for naming Wonder Woman ambassador

United Nations (UN) is facing some heat after naming of DC superhero Wonder Woman as an honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls last week. The official ceremony which was held last Friday saw in attendance actress Linda Carter, who played the original role of Wonder Woman.

But since news first broke about the new fictional UN honorary ambassador, making its rounds online was a petition  objecting to the move. It garnered a total of 2,373 signatures at the time of writing.  According to global media outlets, the petition saw  not only by the members of the public signing their displeasure against the move, but the UN workers themselves.

BBC reported that the UN employees were questioning if a fictional character wearing “what looks like a playboy bunny outfit” was in fact the right message being sent to both genders.

“Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent ‘warrior’ woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots –the epitome of a ‘pin-up’ girl,” the petition read.

The petition also questioned why a real woman was not asked to front UN’s campaign.

The message the United Nations is sending to the world with this appointment is extremely disappointing.

It added that the bottom line seems to be the UN was unable to find a real life woman that would be able to champion the rights of all women on the issue of gender equality and the fight for their empowerment. It added:

Having strong (living, breathing) female role models is a critical aspect of the goal of empowerment of women and girls.

“If the United Nations would like a list of incredible extraordinary women that would formidably carry out this role, we could surely be able to come up with a list from which the Secretary-General could choose,” read the petition. Similarly on the world of social, the campaign is getting a fair bit of flak with some calling it “ridiculous” and “silly”.

To this, UN on social media said,”There are many real life personalities, such as actresses Emma Watson and Charlize Theron as well as activist Dr. Alaa Murabit, who have joined the United Nations as Messengers of Peace, Goodwill Ambassadors and SDG Advocates to support our causes, from gender equality to climate change. We hope the character of Wonder Woman – and all the real life wonder women around the world – will join their ranks to bring about positive change in our world.”

Meanwhile, a press statement from UN also said the iconic superhero was chosen to raise awareness about Goal 5 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030.

“While we have achieved progress towards gender equality in many parts of the world, women and girls continue to suffer discrimination and violence. Gender equality is a fundamental human right and a foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world,” UN Under-Secretary-General for communications and Public Information Cristina Gallach said during the ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The campaign launches on the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman’s first appearance in a comic book in 1941. Social media graphics and messaging will help support the key actions and a custom comic book on the empowerment of women and girls will be produced in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish, the six official languages of the UN.

The campaign, supported by DC Entertainment and Warner Bros, she added, is an example of how UN is working with diverse partners and making new alliances “to reach out to audiences everywhere to know about and understand the Goals, and, in this case, about gender equality.”

Wonder Woman’s strength and fight for justice and peace will help to focus the campaign’s attention in five key areas:

  • Speaking out against discrimination and limitations on women and girls;
  • Joining forces with others against gender-based violence and abuse;
  • Supporting full and effective participation and equal opportunity for women and girls in leadership in all spheres of life – including the workplace;
  • Ensuring all women and girls have access to quality learning, and:
  • Sharing examples of real life women and girls who are making a difference every day.

Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment and of Warner Bros. Consumer Products said, “Supporting the United Nations campaign for female empowerment is a weighty responsibility and one that all of us at DC and Warner Bros. are proud to take on.”

“We believe that in addition to the exemplary work that amazing real women are doing in the fight for gender equality, it is to be commended that the UN understands that stories – even comic book stories and their characters – can inspire, teach and reveal injustices,” she added.

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