5 female UN ambassadors to know

From Angelina to Emma

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Words by Liz Connor

Glossy celebrities by day, fierce activists by night – it’s hard to imagine how this lot fit it all in. From Angelina to Emma, check out our run-down of multi-talented female UN ambassadors who are using their kudos to tackle everything from oppression to famine. All in a days work…

Emma Watson

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Back in July, ELLE December cover star, actress and feminist Emma Watson was announced as UN Goodwill Ambassador, and last month she impassioned a nation when she delivered her first major speech at the organization’s headquarters in New York. Reclaiming the word ‘feminism’ for the benefit of all, Emma took the opportunity to launch a revolutionary #HeForShe campaign, a ‘solidarity movement for gender equality’ that extended an open invitation to men to speak up for oppressed women everywhere.

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Is this the most liberating video to ever hit the digital landscape? The Internet certainly thought so – we’d say over 1 million views (ok, a lot of those might be from the ELLE team) counts as a global ‘hell yeah’ from both men and women alike.

Angelina Jolie

Props to Angelina Jolie – the rudimental celeb ambassador - in 2012, 10 years of service to the UN saw her graduate from Goodwill Ambassador to UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Jolie has spoken out about her personal encounters with the effects of a humanitarian crisis, explaining that it was whilst filming 2001’s Tomb Raider in Cambodia that she experienced first-hand the devastation of a war-torn country.

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Since then, the actress and newlywed has conducted over 40 field visits in remote refugee camps in the likes of Tanzania and Namibia, using her stardom to call attention to the 20 million refugees in the 120 countries that the UN assists.

Selena Gomez

Ok, raise your hand if you had no idea Selena Gomez was old enough to have been a UN Ambassador for 5 years? That’s because the Disney-star-turned-philanthropist is the youngest celebrity to ever be inaugurated into the hallowed halls of UN fame. At just 17, Gomez was appointed spokesperson for UNICEF’s global Trick-or-Treat campaign and has since gone on to become a fully-fledged ambassador for the charity.

Selena has regularly hosted charity concerts for UNICEF’s benefit (with support from a few famous faces) to raise money to provide lifesaving therapeutic foods, clean water, medicines, immunization and education to children worldwide.

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham - we applaud you. Not only have you made the challenging transition from Spice Girl to critically acclaimed fashion designer, but you also recently joined the UN family as newbie Goodwill Ambassador. 

The 40-year-old star is working on behalf of UNAIDS - the main advocate for accelerated, comprehensive and coordinated global action on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The singer-turned-designer spoke at a press conference at the United Nations building in New York last month, stating that she was ‘honoured’ to be made an ambassador for their UNAIDS campaign, staying ‘I am mother and I am a woman. I will do whatever I can to raise awareness.’

Nicole Kidman

Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman was appointed, yep – you guessed it, Goodwill Ambassador in January 2006. Since then, she has tirelessly leant her name and voice to a host of good deeds.

Perhaps most notably, she galvanized global support as spokeswoman for the Say NO–UNiTE to End Violence against Women initiative. Travelling to countries where UN Women works to amplify the voices of female survivors of violence, the Before I Go To Sleep star has helped to raise funds for programmes that address violence against women.

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