How Can A Fictional Character Represent Women Everywhere?

Wonder Woman has been appointed as the United Nations’ honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls. While this new development did spark some praise, it’s fair to say that not everyone was thrilled about the decision.

The fictionalized character has been celebrated as an empowering feminist icon, having been the first female superhero and a symbolic keeper of justice. However, the installation of Wonder Woman caused around 50 UN staff members to turn their backs on the ceremony of Wonder Woman’s appointment and led to the launch of a petition which requests a reconsideration.

While this step was taken to help achieve the UN’s fifth sustainable development goal- to promote “gender equality and the empowerment of women”- many petition signers saw the choice as a poor one which showed the UN’s inability to find a real woman who could campaign for the rights of all women.

The petition claimed that Wonder Woman’s current depiction as “a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions” makes her an allegedly unsuitable model ambassador.

However, Wonder Woman’s new role in the UN also stirred approval. Film critic Anna Smith stated “Wonder Woman the film is coming out next year, this is an opportunity to have a film directed by a woman, starring a woman as a first major female superhero…It has got to be a positive strike for women and I think this helps draw attention to that.”

UN under-secretary-general for communications and public information Cristina Gallach also positively remarked, “I don’t need to tell you Wonder Woman is an icon… She has been known for justice, peace and equality and we are very pleased that this character will help us reach new audiences with essential messages about empowerment and equality.”

With many criticizing the UN’s choice as something which reinforces negative ideas surrounding body image, others have simultaneously commemorated Wonder Woman for the feminist ideals she has come to represent. Opinions concerning the role of Wonder Woman in the UN are thus certainly divided.

What are your thoughts on the UN’s new move for gender equality and empowerment?


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