After 75 years of service to the world depicted in DC Comics, Wonder Woman will now serve as an official United Nations ambassador in their goal to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The official ceremony took place at the UN Headquarters in New York City on the date of Wonder Woman’s 75th anniversary, October 21. With a number of important figures from her 75-year run as a worldwide icon as well as young girls from various organizations like the Girl Scouts present, the United Nations officially bestowed the honor upon Wonder Woman.
The event included guests DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson, “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot, and ’70s “Wonder Woman” actress Lynda Carter. Also in attendance were DC Comics CCO Geoff Johns, DC Co-Publisher Jim Lee and DC writer/artist Phil Jimenez.
The event and Wonder Woman’s naming as a UN ambassador did not occur without controversy. After introducing the ceremony’s guests, a group of approximately 50 protestors were seen in the very back of the large meeting room. The protestors stood silently, with their backs to the proceedings, some holding their right arms high in the air with their fists clenched.
The demonstration was not unexpected. As the New York Times reports, over 600 United Nations staff members signed an online petition asking Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to reconsider the decision. The petition calls Wonder Woman an inappropriate choice for the initiative to empower girls, describing her as “a large-breasted white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee-high boots.”
The timing of this event is also said to play into the protest, as the United Nations just rejected seven female candidates to succeed Ban Ki-moon as secretary general. Many staff members wondered why a fictional woman was chosen as ambassador over a real one.
The protest did not disrupt the ceremony itself, however, and Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Cristina Gallach spoke about the purpose of the UN’s mission to reach total gender equality by the year 2030. “In many parts of the world, women and girls continue to suffer from discrimination and violence,” said Gallach in a speech. “Many girls are still denied access to schooling. Equal pay remains an elusive dream for numerous women. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, it is a foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.”
Following Gallach’s speech, DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson spoke about how Wonder Woman’s creation changed comics permanently. “For too long and too often, the comic, film and television industry have portrayed women as damsels in distress,” said Nelson. “But thanks in large part to Doctor William Moulton Marston, who — in the early 1940s — created Wonder Woman, the greatest female superhero to date, this is becoming less often the case.”
Nelson also spoke about the conversation that this initiative hopes to foster. “There’s a revolution already underway, and it needs engagement and action from women and girls and men and boys. The tough conversation we’re having about assault and objectification, just like tough conversations about race and policing, will, I think, ultimately take us to a better place. However, there are girls all over the world who don’t get to dream about what they want to be when they grow up.”
Additionally, Nelson spoke to the importance of the UN picking a fictional woman to represent the initiative. “We believe that in addition to the amazing, exemplary work real women are doing in the fight for gender equality, it’s to be commended that the U.N. understands that stories, comic book stories and their characters, can inspire, teach and reveal injustices,” said Nelson. “Stories, rather through scripture, legend or comic book, can educate and encourage. It can light a fire in our soul and guide us toward good. Wonder Woman has long been celebrated as an icon of empowerment and is one of the most unique and compelling characters in storytelling.”
Nelson then revealed that DC is developing a Wonder Woman comic that “tells the story of empowerment, peace, justice and equality.” The comic, arriving in 2017, will make history for the publisher as their first comic available around the world in multiple languages simultaneously. Wonder Woman will also be able to use the hero’s likeness in programs across the world.
As Lynda Carter took the stage, the silent protest came to an end with the dozens of staff members exiting the meeting room quietly. Carter began her speech by talking about the woman behind Wonder Woman, Elizabeth Holloway Marston. Elizabeth encouraged her husband to create a female superhero and had a hand in shaping Wonder Woman’s creation. “According to their granddaughter, Christie Marston, the idea of Wonder Woman was born. I spoke to her the other day, and she said, ‘Oh yeah, for Gram, it was all about intellect and attitude.'”
Carter spoke about being cast as the icon forty years ago for a television series and the obstacles the show had to overcome — and the impact she felt Wonder Woman make. “This was a monumental thing, for at the time there were very few women holding their own shows in television. They didn’t think a woman could hold a television show. We started getting letters and phone calls and hearing stories. This miracle of an idea that came from a 48-year-old woman named Elizabeth started to have an influence on some girls’ and women’s lives. That was when Wonder Woman became flesh.” Carter continued, saying that “she became we,” and “there lies within each of us, Wonder Woman. She is real; she lives and she breathes. I know this, because she lives in me and the stories these women tell me, day in and day out.”
Addressing those that doubt Wonder Woman’s fitness for the job, Carter urged everyone to “embrace her” and told “all the doubters that don’t think it’s a good idea, stand up and be counted. We need the good men of the world.”
Following Carter’s passionate speech, current Wonder Woman Gal Gadot said, “I think she should be the president of the United States.” The room applauded for Carter, who coincidentally will be playing the president of the United States in this season of the CW’s “Supergirl.” Gadot then briefly spoke about Wonder Woman’s new mission: “Her mission is simple, but as many people know from all around the world, it isn’t always so. Sometimes we need something or someone to aspire to, to help inform our choices and set an example. That example can be a superhero like Wonder Woman, or a real life superhero in your own world. She can inspire us to be more, demand more and to do more. That’s inspiration for everyone.”
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