Is Wonder Woman appropriate for a UN ambassadorship?

Some question the United Nation’s appointment of Wonder Woman to represent its gender equality campaign. Here’s what led to a petition and protest—along with the UN’s response.

For many brand managers, choosing an ambassador is important to gaining consumer trust and loyalty.

For United Nations PR managers, announcing their symbol of choice for a yearlong gender equality and women’s empowerment campaign has turned into a crisis.

Recently, Wonder Woman was appointed the honorary U.N. ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls. Here’s a snippet of the announcement, from UN.org:

The Wonder Woman campaign will highlight what we can collectively achieve if women and girls are empowered – along with examples of women and girls who have made and are making a difference every day by overcoming barriers and beating the odds to reach their goals.

The campaign is about women and girls everywhere, who are wonder women in their own right, and the men and boys who support their struggle for gender equality, bringing about positive change in their homes, workplace, communities, countries and the world together.

According to Vulture, the U.N.’s decision seemed to represent the interests of DC Comics and Warner Bros.—they share the ownership rights of her character.

Vulture reports:

Questions have arisen regarding the new ambassador’s commitment given her competing duties to promote two films, “Wonder Woman” and an appearance in last summer’s “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Here’s more, from NPR:

The U.N.’s anointing of Wonder Woman has actually been in the works since last spring. That’s when Warner Bros. and DC Comics approached the U.N. about celebrating her 75th birthday and an upcoming movie with a joint social media campaign promoting women’s rights through tweets and Facebook callouts.

The positive “tweets and Facebook callouts” that managers had hoped for turned into backlash when protesters crashed the U.N.’s campaign official appointment ceremony in New York on Friday.

From Vulture:

U.N. staff members have expressed sharp disapproval over the honor, with more than 600 of them signing an online petition to condemn the superhero’s ambassador status. In the petition, the staffers urged Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to reconsider their choice, writing that Wonder Woman’s “overtly sexualized image” is not “culturally encompassing or sensitive.”

Here’s a small section of the petition, which has garnered nearly 3,000 signatures:

The message the United Nations is sending to the world with this appointment is extremely disappointing. The bottom line appears to be that the United Nations 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. The United Nations has decided that Wonder Woman is the role model that women and girls all round the world should look up to.

Despite the presence in New York of “real women” and Wonder Woman actresses Gal Gadot and Lynda Carter, The Guardian reports that roughly 100 protesters stood with signs that read: “For something that is this important, you need a woman or a man who can speak.”

NPR reports that Maher Nasser—the U.N. official behind Wonder Woman’s appointment—says he and others were aware of some of those concerns.

He told NPR’s Nurith Aizenman that the social media campaign will emphasize “the essence of the character” and will “tone down” her image.

Here’s more, from Nasser:

The campaign art that we are working with … doesn’t have that caricature image of the wrong stereotype of what a woman should look like.

The focus [of the U.N.] was on her feminist background, being the first female superhero in a world of male superheroes and that basically she always fought for fairness, justice and peace.

Nasser says he has no plans to revoke Wonder Woman’s ambassador status just yet. He did say, however, that she’s causing “a big headache” for U.N. officials.

What do you make of the U.N.’s newest ambassador, Ragan readers?

(Image via)

Topics: PR

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