Oscar-winner Hathaway, 33, will use her profile to advance the cause of gender equality. “I feel honoured and inspired by this opportunity to aid in advancing gender equality. Significant progress has already been made but it is time that we collectively intensify our efforts and ensure that true equality is finally realised,” the actress said in a statement.
Hathaway’s role will be to focus on and promote one of the most challenging issues in the US: the financial and workplace rights of new parents. The US is the only developed country in the world that does not offer paid leave for new parents—a situation the UN has described as “the motherhood penalty.”
This is not Hathaway’s first foray into advocacy, having already travelled to Ethiopia and Kenya to raise awareness of child-marriage issues in 2011. UN Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said, “Within moments of meeting Anne, I realised that we had found our woman.”
Hathaway is a mother herself, after she and husband Adam Shulman welcomed their first child, son Jonathan, into the world in March this year.