Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Backlash follows Wonder Woman’s appointment as UN ambassador

wonder woman.jpg

The United Nations has come under fire for appointing the comic book superhero Wonder Woman as its new Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls.

The appointment was made on Friday- the character’s 75th birthday - to mark the launch of a year-long social media campaign to promote female empowerment.

But the appointment was met with outrage from UN members and feminists worldwide, who have now lunched an online petition (already with over 2,400 signatures) to remove the character from her post, on the grounds that she is not an appropriate candidate.

Read more: How to be a nasty woman: Stylist's 9 step guide

Wonder Woman’s appointment was made despite an international campaign to elect a woman as UN secretary-general. But of the five female candidates in a list of 10, a woman did not get the role. And recent analysis found that nine out of 10 senior leadership roles at the UN went to men.

Protesters have dubbed the appointment 'reductive', noting their disappointment that the UN opted for a fictitious character, instead of a real human woman, to champion the rights of women. The online petition says: “It is alarming that the United Nations would consider using a character with an overtly sexualized image at a time when the headline news in United States and the world is the objectification of women and girls.”

Around 100 UN staff members protested the appointment holding placards in the lobby of the UN that read: “I am not a mascot,” Let’s get real” and “real women deserve a real ambassador”.

wonder woman

United Nations Under Secretary-General Cristina Gallach makes the announcement

Speaking to the BBC, one UN staff member said: “We don’t think that a fictitious comic book character wearing what basically looks like a playboy bunny outfit is really the right message we need to send to girls – or even boys for that matter – about what strong women are. We think that is a toxic message to be sending.”

Gloria Steinem told CBS that she was “all for symbolism,” but that “we are now looking for women with real terrestrial power”.

Professor of global affairs at New York University, Anne Marie Goetz, called the decision “disgusting,” and social media erupted with suggestions of real-life women who would better fit the role.

But some have said the comic book character was appointed due to her feminist status.

Read more: Why has it taken this long for another woman to rise to the top

UN official Maher Nasser said that “The focus [of the UN] 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.”

It’s not the first time a fictional character has been appointed as a UN ambassador. In 1998, Winnie the Pooh was appointed as ambassador for Friendship, and in 2009, Tinker Bell was honorary ambassador of green.

The news comes not long after Wonder Woman came out as queer, and a new Wonder Woman film is set for release. 


beauty mental health.jpg

“How beauty rituals help me manage my depression”

istock woman upset silhouette sexual harassment workplace.jpg

Real-life victims of revenge porn share their stories

alexandra shulman.jpg

Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman opens up about her anxiety


The best possible gifts for when flowers aren’t going to cut it

17 unusual and thoughtful gifts for when the s**t hits the fan

by Amy Swales
22 Sep 2017

This Battle of the Sexes legend wants you to STOP asking about McEnroe

“I would like to see John McEnroe win a Grand Slam tournament while pregnant”

by Susan Devaney
22 Sep 2017

“The real reason we should all be upset about Uber”

Grow up: your bank balance really isn’t what’s at stake here

by Kayleigh Dray
22 Sep 2017

There's a huge sherbet fountain coming to London - and it's free

Bompas & Parr are planning a weird, wonderful and nostalgia-filled event

by Helen Brown
22 Sep 2017

Rick and Morty creator responds to sexist trolling of female writers

The show hired four women. Cue cries of “Worst. Episodes. Evah.”

by Amy Swales
22 Sep 2017

Everything you need to know about Uber being banned in London

The taxi firm has had its license revoked by TfL

by Moya Crockett
22 Sep 2017

The new Baileys flavour you’ll want to drink well beyond Halloween

Perfect autumn cocktails ahead

by Amy Swales
22 Sep 2017

This unexpected town has been voted the best place to work in the UK

We didn’t see this one coming

by Moya Crockett
22 Sep 2017

Harry Potter fans, this epic Hogwarts goblet is actually magical

It's perfect for Butterbeer (or prosecco)

by Megan Murray
22 Sep 2017

The hidden meanings behind the nation’s most popular baby names

Prepare for lots of girls’ names ending in ‘a’

by Moya Crockett
22 Sep 2017