Indian-American television personality and food expert Padma Lakshmi has been appointed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as its Goodwill Ambassador, supporting the agency’s fight against inequality and discrimination around the world. UNDP announced Lakshmi’s appointment here on Thursday, on the eve of International Women’s Day.
In her new role, the Emmy-nominated television personality and award-winning author will mobilise support for the Sustainable Development Goals with a focus on fighting inequality, discrimination and empowering the disenfranchised.
Lakshmi was named the Goodwill Ambassador by UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner in a ceremony at the UNDP headquarters in the city. “As we celebrate International Women’s Day let’s remember that women and girls face some of the worst discrimination and hardships in the world,” Lakshmi said at a press conference held at UNDP headquarters.
She said her main focus as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador will be to shine a spotlight on the fact that inequality can affect people in rich and poor countries alike. “Many nations have greatly reduced poverty, but inequality has proved more stubborn,” she said. “Inequality is further compounded by gender, age, ethnicity and race. It especially affects women, minorities and others who face unimaginable discrimination in the societies in which they live.”
Steiner said Lakshmi has a strong record of speaking out for those who have been left behind and of fighting discrimination. “We need more voices like hers to ensure we can meet the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals — our shared roadmap for peace and prosperity for people and the planet,” he added.
Lakshmi has been a judge and host, as well as executive producer, of Bravo Television’s Emmy award-winning series Top Chef. She is also a New York Times bestselling author, the co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America, a Visiting Scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an ambassador for the American Civil Liberties Union advocating for immigrants’ rights.
She is joining a roster of UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors, which includes globally celebrated actors, athletes, musicians and other high-profile influencers such as Spanish-born international star Antonio Banderas, Award-winning actor Michelle Yeoh and legendary musician Bob Weir.