The United Nations has named Wonder Woman as an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls, Sky News reports. The comic book character, created 75 years ago, is now the face of a social media campaign to promote women’s rights.
UN officials said she was known for her commitment to justice, peace and equality. The superhero’s appointment was made at a star-studded ceremony in New York.
Actress Lynda Carter, who played the character in the television series in the 1970s, was there along with Gal Gadot, who will play Wonder Woman in a film to be released next year.
Ms Carter said: “Never forget Wonder Woman lives inside you. You can be anything. Because unless you dream it, it can’t be done. “I promise you, you will be on the right path, and take it from me, that Wonder Woman inside of you will never let you down.”
But the decision to use a fictitious character as a role model has been criticised. More than 1,000 UN staff have signed an online petition calling on outgoing secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon to reconsider.
The petition said “although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent ‘warrior’ woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions.
“The message the United Nations is sending to the world with this appointment is extremely disappointing. “The bottom line appears to be that the United Nations was unable to find a real life woman that would be able to champion the rights of ALL women on the issue of gender equality and the fight for their empowerment.”
Former UN advisor Anne Marie Goetz has called the move “disgusting” on Twitter. Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston and she first appeared in 1941.
In the comic books, she is a warrior princess going under the secret identity of Diana Prince.
Film critic Anna Smith said she approved of the UN’s choice: “Wonder Woman the film is coming out next year, this is an opportunity to have a film directed by a woman, starring a woman as a first major female superhero.
“It has got to be a positive strike for women and I think this helps draw attention to that.” But women’s rights supporters feel this is particularly ill-timed because the UN rejected seven female candidates for secretary-general this month.
The next leader will be Antonio Guterres of Portugal, even though many had hoped a woman would take the helm for the first time.
Fictional characters have been chosen for ambassadorial positions before, including Tinkerbell as Ambassador of Green, and Winnie the Pooh as Ambassador of Friendship.