NEW YORK, USA – Supermodel, philanthropist and impact investor, Natalia Vodianova, on Wednesday, was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. UNFPA and Vodianova will unite to empower women and girls by tackling the stigma and taboos that surround their bodies and health and lead to pervasive discrimination and exclusion.
“For too long, society’s approach to menstruation and women’s health has been defined by taboo and stigma. And this has undermined the most basic needs and rights of women. It is now our responsibility to culturally redefine what is normal,” says Natalia Vodianova. “Menstruation is a normal bodily function. As UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador, I want to work to build a world where we no longer need to explain this.”
Menstruation is a monthly challenge for billions of people worldwide. On any given day, more than 800 million girls and women between ages 15 and 49 are menstruating. They might face exclusion from public life, barriers to opportunities, sanitation and health, heightened vulnerability and even life-threatening neglect. For too long, this issue has not received enough attention, but this has slowly started to change in recent years and achieving this change is central to UNFPA’s mandate.
“It’s a tragic irony that something as universal as menstruation can make girls feel so isolated,” says UNFPA executive director Dr Natalia Kanem. “We all have a role to play in breaking the taboos around menstruation, and UNFPA is pleased to partner with such a powerful and committed advocate. Societies prosper when girls are confident, empowered and making their own decisions!”
Over the past three years, Vodianova and UNFPA have hosted a series of global events together under the “Let’s Talk” banner to dismantle taboos and advance women’s health and gender equality. These events have inspired action from governments, civil society and the private sector to create an environment in which women and girls can live free from shame, exclusion and discrimination. Change-makers, policy-shapers and influencers from sectors including fashion, politics, sports, civil society, technology and media have gathered in Turkey, Kenya, Switzerland, Belarus and India to raise the standard for women’s health around the world.
Raised in poverty by her mother in Russia, with a half-sister who has cerebral palsy and autism, Natalia Vodianova is a passionate advocate for human rights, including reproductive rights and the rights of people living with disabilities. Strongly established in the sectors of fashion and technology, she will work to connect these industries with the United Nations to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.