Gender equality champions
Our champions are women and men who have made gender equality and women's empowerment their cause and mission in life. Hear from them on why they have made women's rights their top priority and what you can do to join them!
Arunachalam Muruganantham – Breaking taboos, pioneering innovation for women’s health
Arunachalam Muruganantham invented a machine to make low-cost sanitary towels, refusing enormous quantities of money to sell the patent for the machine to any commercial company. The path he took was hard. Through the long years of hard work, he nearly lost his wife and mother who found his deep interest in women’s anatomy unnatural. He was publicly ostracized, and was on the verge of being kicked out of his own village. He risked everything he had to
not only improve women’s health, but also went one step further to promote women’s ability to pull themselves out of poverty. He wanted to see women being self-sufficient and started selling handoperated machines to women-managed self-help groups who now work as manufacturers, advertisers,
sellers and customers. Muruganantham is a #HeForShe advocate.
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Rafiq Pathan – On the path less travelled, changing hearts and minds
India’s Rafiq Pathan stands at the forefront of efforts to end discrimination towards girls, and symbolically plants a fruit tree every time a girl is born. He treads on the difficult path where few men have gone before, undertaking grass-roots advocacy to change the hearts and minds of parents, many of whom value boys more than girls. He marries activism for gender equality with environmental protection, and uses his influence as the village council leader to support girl children. Rafiq Pathan is a #HeForShe advocate.
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Magos Herrera – Raising her voice for women’s rights
She is as passionate about gender equality as she is about her music. Mexican-born jazz singer, Magos Herrera, has taken the Latin American jazz scene by storm and was in 2009 nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. She was nominated three times for the prestigious Lunas del Auditorio Nacional award which recognizes the best performance nationally each year, determined by public votes, as well as stalwarts in the arts and entertainment industry. She can also boast the #1 album, Distancia, in the popular iTunes jazz category. A powerful advocate for women’s rights, she is a spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General’s UNiTE campaign to end violence against women.
Dhruv Arora – Co-creator of GotStared.At & #itsnotyourfault
A digital expert and a gender activist, Dhruv Arora, 25, is passionate about both these dimensions of his work and is widely known in New Delhi, India, as the man galvanizing action through an online movement on gender issues. He is one of the creators behind GotStared.At and #itsnotyourfault, an online movement that he built with his friend Kuber. The platforms provide an outlet for people experiencing street harassment, and advances debate on the multiple issues involved. Dhruv Arora is a #HeForShe advocate.
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Carlos Andrés Gómez – Manning up to defend women’s rights
My mom taught me that a real man should be emotionally literate, humble, sensitive, a thoughtful communicator, a peacemaker and an outspoken advocate for equality across all dividing lines.
Carlos Andrés Gómez is an award-winning poet, actor, and author of ‘Man Up – Reimagining Modern Manhood.’ His work urges audiences to rethink the way they interact with women, deal with violence, handle fear, and express emotion. Carlos is a #heforshe advocate.
Aung San Suu Kyi - Advocate for the rights of women and girls
One of the world’s most renowned human rights activists, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has dedicated much of her life to bringing democracy, dignity and human rights to Myanmar’s citizens. She is a founding member and current Chairperson of the National League for Democracy, and was elected to parliament in 2012. She spent decades under house arrest, before being freed in 2010. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights, and has received more than 130 awards and honors, including the Commander of the French Légion d'honneur in 2012, and the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal in 2008.
Feđa Mehmedović – Teaching young men that showing respect goes hand in hand with being ‘cool’
Feđa Mehmedović is a national trainer, peer educator and the winner of a competition promoting gender equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Stories of Real Men. He has trained more than 10,000 young people as part of his Young Men as Allies programme in preventing violence against women. He leads by example, encouraging young men to treat women and girls with respect, and takes great pride in showing the world that it is cool to stand up for women’s rights. Feđa Mehmedović is a #HeForShe advocate.
Nawal El Moutawakel – Hurdles only strengthen her track
Bursting through the barriers of the male-dominated profession of competitive sport, Nawal El Moutawakel is the first Arab, African, and Muslim woman to win an Olympic gold medal, which she did for the 400-metre hurdles in 1984. She followed up her win serving as the first Minister of Sports in Morocco.
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Mervat Tallawy -- Challenging those who cite ‘culture’ to oppress
Egyptian diplomat and politician Mervat Tallawy is the former Minister for Insurance and Social Affairs of Egypt and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). She spent six years involved in the drafting of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and was one of the 23 experts who monitored its implementation. Today she is President of the National Council for Women - Egypt. She challenges States and participants who cite ‘culture’ as the basis to oppress and discriminate against women and believes “women need international solidarity to put an end to violations of their rights.”
Mayor Narisawa – Advocate for equal paternal rights
In 2010, Hironobu Narisawa, the Mayor of Bunkyō City in Tokyo, Japan, became the first local government leader to go on paternity leave. A #HeForShe advocate, he made headline news on a global level. Mayor Narisawa said his goal was to change attitudes and experience the difficulties of raising children first-hand, encouraging other men to do the same.
Marta Vieira da Silva - FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year 2006-2010
“You can’t win with only half the team”
Marta knows what it is like to be the only woman on the team. In 2007, Marta Vieira da Silva played in UNDP’s Match against Poverty in Morocco, where she became the first woman in history to play in an internationally sanctioned men’s football match. As UNDP’s Goodwill Ambassador, Marta speaks out about scoring goals for gender equality.
Farhan Akhtar – Be a catalyst for generational change
Indian actor and director of numerous films and founder of Men against Rape & Discrimination (MARD), Farhan Akhtar was touched by the struggle to end violence against women when a woman he worked with was sexually assaulted and killed in her own home. Farhan established MARD to advocate for change in the ideas of masculinity, and to campaign for the end of violence against women. He is raising his voice for the #HeForShe campaign.
Nicole Kidman – Equality between women and men. Picture it!
Nicole Kidman is an Academy Award-winning actress and an advocate for women's rights. As UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, her efforts have focused on raising awareness to end violence against women and girls. In her message, Nicole imagines a world where every women and girl has the opportunity to reach her highest dreams. Join her on a journey towards women's empowerment.
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Mallika Sarabhai – See things differently
Internationally acclaimed dancer, choreographer, writer, actor and activist, Mallika Sarabhai calls herself a "communicator". Through her art and activism, and in her message for #Beijing20, she stresses that it's time to break the silence about violence against women, and teach men that to be gentle and vulnerable is manly.
Orlando Ayala – Emerging market is women and their capabilities
Orlando Ayala, Chairman of Emerging Markets, Microsoft, is a #HeForShe advocate, because he believes that progress for women means progress for society. Microsoft is partnering with UN Women to advance women's empowerment. As the world searches for new economic models, Ayala is convinced that investing in women is not only the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do.
Dinesh Karthik – You can end violence against women
Dinesh Karthik is one of India's finest cricketers and a sports icon. At 29, he is also a champion for women and girls' empowerment. He is a #HeForShe advocate and is calling upon men and boys everywhere to take action to end violence against women and girls.
Youssou Ndour – Girls represent the future of Africa
Women are the centre of economic, political and social changes and they play a role in the prevention and resolution of conflicts.
Youssou Ndour is a Senegalese singer, percussionist and actor, and one of the most celebrated African musicians in history. A champion for women and girls' empowerment, he believes that women and girls represent the foundation on which Africa will take off by 2050.