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13 November 2014 – The United Nations body focused on gender equality and women’s empowerment today announced that it has appointed its first male Goodwill Ambassador ever – Bollywood superstar, Farhan Akhtar – who will focus his efforts on South Asia.
“We are pleased and honoured to have Farhan as our Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia, for we believe his work and values represent the core values of UN Women,” UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, announced today during her visit to Mumbai, India.
“Farhan started his own campaign, MARD – Men Against Rape and Discrimination – that aims to sensitize men and create awareness about the safety of women. That kind of engagement is essential,” Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka continued.
“We need creative and committed men like Farhan to push the gender equality and women’s empowerment agenda.”
Mr. Akhtar, renowned for his work as an actor, filmmaker and singer, will devote his efforts to promoting the empowerment of women and girls across South Asia. In addition, he will also serve as an advocate for UN Women’s newly launched HeForShe campaign – an initiative aimed at placing men at the centre of activism and dialogue to end persistent inequalities faced by women and girls around the world.
India and other countries in the South Asia region have witnessed a recent spate of high-profile instances of violence against women, including a series of brutal and fatal gang rapes.
Celebrating his new role, Mr. Akhtar said he would call on all men and boys to be “a catalyst for change” and help create “a value system to end gender disparity.”
“I am honoured to serve UN Women as the Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia,” said Mr. Akhtar.
“This gives me and our MARD initiative an added impetus to work together towards a more gender equal India and world. I am a supporter of UN Women’s HeForShe campaign and the role men and boys can play in stopping crime against women and girls, and working towards gender equality.”
Mr. Akhtar’s appointment coincides with the visit of UN Women’s top official to India.
During her time in the country, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka met with the President of India and other senior ministers while also pushing the gender justice initiative with a number of organizations located in New Delhi.
The Executive Director applauded the appointment, adding that Mr. Akhtar would be an ideal representative for communicating the need for gender equality to his male peers.
“I am convinced that Farhan’s passion and conviction for the cause will galvanize a multiplier effect and reach the hearts and minds of men and boys in South Asia and beyond,” Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka concluded.