UNICEF, or the United Nations Children’s Fund, is an internationally known organization that provides long-term aid and humanitarian services to children in struggling countries. The organization has just named singer Katy Perry the new 2013 Goodwill Ambassador as of December 3 2013.

Katy Perry is famous for her upbeat pop songs and wild dress style, but there is a serious empathetic and generous side to the artist that many of her fans may be unaware of. Katy has been supporting the fight against global poverty for many years, and in April of 2013 she visited the slums in Antananarivo, Madagascar to witness the situation firsthand.

UNICEF made it possible for her to travel to one of the poorest island nations in the world and learn how the organization works to help those in need. Providing educational programs for children, protecting women and children against rape and abuse, as well as integrating water and hygiene support into the community are some of the many ways UNICEF attempts to aid residents of the slums, and Katy Perry experienced the magic in person.

A strong online presence worked to UNICEF’s advantage when Katy Perry allowed them to use her most recent hit ‘Roar’ for their promotional video, which can be found on YouTube. Perry has more than forty-eight thousand followers on Twitter, and she uses this powerful social media influence to reach out on behalf of others. Recently she has tweeted to her mass following in a plea to generate funds for the victims of the typhoon that struck the Philippines in November. Follow this link to view Katy Perry’s twitter.

Perry is only one of the long line of celebrities offering their voice to the issue of global poverty in distressed nations. Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Liam Neeson, and Matt Damon are a few of the most widely acknowledged contributors to disaster relief and foreign aid. Many of the aforementioned stars have founded their own charities and traveled, like Katy, to witness the execution of their programs in person.

Celebrity endorsement is one of the oldest tricks in the book in terms of creating awareness. Usually celebrities are used to glamorize products and increase sales, but UNICEF and other aid organizations have realized the enormous power celebrities have to change the lives of people struggling against poverty. Being a focus in the public eye gives celebrities real life power to influence the thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes of people around the world. Celebrities have begun using this spotlight to educate others on issues affecting mass amounts of people and inspiring audiences to make their own contributions. Spreading knowledge about the global situation in various countries is the first step to inspiring action, and a little effort from just one individual is enough to make a difference to the lives of many.

– Kaitlin Sutherby

Sources: Look to the Stars, Twitter, Fuse, UNICEF
Photo: Hollywood Reporter

International pop star Katy Perry has become UNICEF’s newest Goodwill Ambassador as of December 3. Perry is the singer of the anthemic ballads “Firework” and “Roar” and she is obviously living up to her songs’ inspirational messages. UNICEF executive director Anthony Lake stated, “Katy Perry is already a champion for children, and we look forward to hearing her ‘roar’ on behalf of UNICEF.”

Perry’s first project with UNICEF was a trip to Madagascar in April of this year. She spent four days there speaking with local people as well as government and UNICEF workers discussing the major issues facing the country as a whole. Perry met with abused and abandoned children and young mothers. She also visited schools and medical centers and learned how UNICEF has been working toward improving poor living conditions in Madagascar. Over half of the people in Madagascar live in poverty, and the country is plagued with chronic malnutrition, poor sanitation, and lack of education. Perry’s time there and her work with UNICEF evidently impacted her, leading to her new position as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

Perry has stated that her experiences in Madagascar changed her life. The trip reportedly taught her to realign her priorities away from material possessions and social status, and put her own situation into perspective. She also stated that her music has been influenced by the stories of the people she met, particularly those of oppressed and abused women. Her new hit “Unconditionally” was inspired by her time there.

Goodwill ambassadors are public figures who choose to use their put their fame and influence to good use by becoming powerful advocates for impoverished and suffering individuals globally. As a wildly successful pop icon, Perry is in the perfect position to engage young people as advocates for the world’s poor, neglected, and abused children and adolescents. She plans to focus her efforts on young people, inspiring those with the power to help, and giving aid to the vulnerable people who need it.

She stated, “I believe young people have the power to change their own lives, with our help. I am honoured to join UNICEF as a Goodwill ambassador, and committed to doing everything I can to help children and adolescents who come from such different backgrounds but want the same thing: a brighter future.”

Perry posted this statement on her widely trafficked Tumblr page, as well as some celebratory tweets and pictures from UNICEF. Perry has previously appealed to her social media followers to support UNICEF and its relief efforts for children.

Actor and comedian Danny Kaye pioneered the Goodwill ambassador concept in 1954 and its most famous participant was Oscar winner Audrey Hepburn. Today, Katy Perry joins a long list of committed ambassadors including Amitabh Bachchan, David Beckham, Harry Belafonte, Orlando Bloom, Jackie Chan, Mia Farrow, Danny Glover, Angelique Kidjo, Liam Neeson, Leo Messi, Sir Roger Moore, Vanessa Redgrave and Susan Sarandon, among others.

– Kathleen Walsh

Sources: Unicef, The Borgen Project, Tumblr, ABC, Unicef
Photo: Xinhua Net