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  Wonder Woman as UN ambassador

Wonder Woman as UN ambassador

Published : Oct 22, 2016, 10:14 pm IST
Updated : Oct 22, 2016, 10:14 pm IST

Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman on television, speaks during a UN meeting to designate the character as an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. (Photo: AP Photo)


Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman on television, speaks during a UN meeting to designate the character as an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. (Photo: AP Photo)

Last week, the United Nations (UN) announced comic book figure Wonder Woman as their new honorary ambassador. While the Security Council selected António Guterres as the Secretary General of the highest diplomatic body, rejecting seven female candidates vying to lead the organisation, they picked up the cartoon character to promote ‘empowerment of women and girls’. Considering that they selected a fictional character as an ambassador, critics are not quite pleased. We speak to feminists, sociologists, artists, and cartoonists on the pertinence and legitimacy of the gesture.

‘Pop icons have a far wider reach’ I believe that the philosophy behind announcing Wonder Woman as the honorary ambassador has the same belief that has granted the Nobel Prize for Literature to Bob Dylan. Pop icons, and popular culture, have a far wider reach. If pop culture can be used for a positive cause, then why not This act is an acknowledgment of the power culture has in reaching a wider reception base. I’m not saying that every brand ambassador should be a pop-culture figure, but it is interesting to throw in something provocative. Parvathi Nayar, visual artist, Chennai.

‘Isn’t the UN more than just America ’ The UN has chosen fictional ambassadors previously, for instance, Winnie the Pooh was chosen as the Day of Friendship Ambassador in 1998. But today it would have been better to have someone with an actual voice for something as important as women empowerment.

Wonder Woman has an interesting story arc; and stories can indeed inspire women as well, but at the end of the day, she is still someone who lives in the realms of fiction. Also, there is something so American about her. Isn’t the UN more than just America

In the current scenario where they once again went with a man for the position of a secretary general, it does seem like a symbolic gesture in a place that’s known to be a boys club. Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been consistently speaking up for the rights of women. There’s universal relatability, especially among young women, in the way she writes. Priya Kuriyan, illustrator

‘A useful tool to reach out to children’ Considering that the UN isn’t exactly a democratic institution with permanent powers holding the veto, I don’t really believe the selection is completely on merit, since there is a lot of politics at play here. With respect to the Goodwill Ambassadorship, using a comic book character isn’t a bad idea altogether, since comics are a powerful visual medium. However, it all depends on how they utilise the character. The Wonder Woman movie, as well as its follow ups in the coming years, will make the character a bigger worldwide phenomenon than it already is. It’s certainly useful to reach out to children and young adults, but in practicality, can it influence actual events on ground There are hundreds of actual candidates who could certainly do a lot more. Female athletes, entrepreneurs and activists who actually could deliver results would have been great as a goodwill ambassador. Jatin Varma, founder and director at Comic Con India

‘This seems like a pr stunt’ While I am a big fan of Wonder Woman, especially the golden age version, I do believe that the cause of female empowerment globally would be better served by the Malalas, the Aung San Suu Kyis, and the Irom Sharmilas of the world. Real women face real problems, like gender bias, discrimination, harassment, sexual violence, infanticide, trafficking, and social marginalisation.

Personally, I think this seems like a PR stunt to make the UN seem relevant, since superheroes and comic book properties are hot right now. I don’t think it is going to help anyone.

Wonder Woman is the epitome of a first world heroine. I mean, can you imagine her fighting crime in the third world in a swimsuit/bustier and go-go boots Arjun Gaind, graphic novelist

‘UN Failing to appoint a woman makes their claims hollow’ When Shashi Tharoor was in the running for UN Secretary General, we heard a lot about the sensitive politics of representation that underly the choice. But, failing to appoint a single woman in seven decades makes that claim sound very hollow. I guess a woman has to literally possess divine super powers in order to lead the UN. Raghu Karnad, author