UN Women, the body of the United Nations focused on gender equality and the empowerment of women, pulled a fast one on us this week when they named a man as its Goodwill Ambassador. But not just any guy, this one:
That’s Bollywood star, Farhan Akhtar. You might think his appointment would spark outrage on social media. But Twitter seems to love this dude.
But, if you mine the Internet long enough, you might come across this guest comment by "Nayana," who had this to say on IBN Live, CNN’s English-language news channel in India:
See, not everyone's happy.
But the folks at UN Women have their reasons. Akhtar will serve as ambassador to South Asia, a region that has seen a spike in high-profile incidents of violence against women, most prominently the fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi.
Incidents like this prompted a public service campaign launched last year in India:
This video has over 4 million views on YouTube alone. And that’s where Akhtar comes in. In addition to his life as a Bollywood star, Akhtar launched a social initiative and awareness group in 2013 called Men Against Rape and Discrimination (MARD). He's been a vocal champion for women’s rights in India ever since then — going on a year and a half now.
But can a man do a "woman's job." The UN says yes.
"We need creative and committed men like Farhan to push the gender equality and women’s empowerment agenda,” UN Women executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said in a statement. It's true — every civil rights movement needs allies.
So while it may be unexpected to find a man sitting in one of the UN's top chairs for women, we should be glad to have allies — especially when they're Bollywood stars who can dance like this:
Cleo Stiller is a digital producer covering the intersections of sex, tech and culture. Words to live by: get your money's worth.