The United Nations appointed Wonder Woman an honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls in a ceremony on Friday attended by Lynda Carter and Gal Gadot, two actresses who have played the DC Comics superhero.
Carter headlined the popular 1970s television series while Gadot is set to star in next year’s “Wonder Woman,” which will mark the first time the character has had a standalone big-screen adventure. They were joined by “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins and DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson.
The appointment comes as Wonder Woman is celebrating her 75th anniversary. The character has been associated with the women’s rights movement since her inception. Creator William Moulton Marston was a major proponent of gender equality and drew on the iconography of the suffragette movement in fashioning Wonder Woman’s patriotic outfit, tiara, and gold bracelets. The character’s association with feminism was deepened after Gloria Steinem put her on the cover of an early issue of Ms. Magazine in the 1970s.
However, the U.N.’s move has generated controversy. Hundreds of staff members at the organization have signed a petition asking the U.N. to make a different choice and criticizing the scantily attired Wonder Woman as “the epitome of a ‘pin-up’ girl.”
On Twitter, Anne Marie Goetz, a former U.N. advisor and a professor at NYU, slammed the appointment, tweeting, “Retire Wonder Woman right away, UN! Pick global ambassador that is not symbol of objectified women, nor, for that matter, of American power.”
In remarks Friday, Cristina Gallach, U.N. under-secretary-general for communications and public information, stressed that Wonder Woman could shine a light on global issues that women face, from higher rates of illiteracy to gender-based violence.
“Wonder Woman will be another valuable partner for us to achieve such a world by inspiring her millions of fans worldwide to stand up for gender equality,” she said.
As part of the appointment, DC and its sister company Warner Bros. have promised to use their media platforms to raise awareness about issues relating to women’s rights. DC will publish a special comic book in 2017, that will appear in the six official languages of the U.N.: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. The companies will also team for a public service announcement featuring Gadot.