UN choice of Wonder Woman makes women wonder

UN Secretary- General Ban Ki Moon will attend a ceremony on Friday to officially designate Wonder Woman as the UN honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls.
UN Secretary- General Ban Ki Moon will attend a ceremony on Friday to officially designate Wonder Woman as the UN honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls. PHOTO: DC COMICS

NEW YORK • The United Nations (UN) has defended the choice of comic book character Wonder Woman to lead a campaign for the empowerment of girls, following criticism that it was demeaning to women.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is due to attend a ceremony on Friday to officially designate Wonder Woman as the UN honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls.

The announcement on Monday came a few days after Mr Antonio Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal, was chosen as the next UN secretary-general, disappointing women's groups who pushed for the first woman in the job. The initiative, dubbed "All the wonders we can do", will focus on gender equality and women's empowerment, one of the UN's global goals for the next 15 years.

The character emerged in 1941 in a comic book produced by the company that has become DC Entertainment. Its president Diane Nelson is set to attend the event along with "surprise guests" - possibly actress Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman in the TV series in the 1970s.

"It's ridiculous," said Ms Shazia Rafi of She4SG, which called for a female secretary-general. "The campaign for women's empowerment is represented by a cartoon when there are so many real-life women who could have been chosen." She wants a boycott of Friday's event and demands that Wonder Woman be dropped from the campaign.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric hit back, saying the choice of Wonder Woman was simply an attempt to reach younger audiences. He urged critics to wait for Friday's announcement before drawing any conclusions about the goals of the year-long campaign.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2016, with the headline 'UN choice of Wonder Woman makes women wonder'. Print Edition | Subscribe