Shakira is a devoted advocate for children! On October 24, 2003, she was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and expanded her advocacy on a global level. “Celebrating 10 years with @UNICEF. Feeling grateful for all I've learned and looking forward to doing more. Shak,” she tweeted. In honor of the Colombiana's 10 year anniversary, we've rounded up her 10 most inspirational moments with UNICEF:
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Shakira joined UNICEF Netherlands to celebrate its 50th anniversary in June 2005. The singer gave a performance for guests and also shared her thoughts on the protection of child rights.
In June 2006, Shakira and UNICEF came together to launch the Unite for Children Unite Against AIDS campaign. The 36-year-old singer filmed a PSA stressing the importance of educating youth about HIV/AIDS. Her message was aired to thousands of adoring fans during a concert she held in Madrid.
Shakira launched a UNICEF regional campaign to protect children from violence in 2006. That year, in November, the Colombian megastar took a trip to El Salvador to address thousands of students who took part in a march against violence. “I am very glad to see you all gathered here, knowing that many of you, walking on the streets of your city since early morning, are already taking the first steps towards a better future for El Salvador,” she said to the crowd.
Following the devastating results of Cyclone Sidr in 2007, Shakira traveled to Bangladesh to meet with the women and children whose lives were affected by the disaster. “I came to Bangladesh to see the impact of the cyclone and to learn about UNICEF’s approach to education,” she said. “We visited a variety of education programs and became even more convinced that education is a powerful tool to improve people’s lives.”
Shakira was one of many stars that came out to show their support for Haiti following an earthquake that struck the island in 2009. The singer participated in MTV’s telethon for Haiti, which supported UNICEF’s efforts, by answering phones and performing.
In 2009, Shakira received the “Honorary Award for Children’s Rights” from UNICEF Germany. “With her commitment for children’s rights Shakira encourages children and adolescents worldwide to fight HIV/AIDS, violence and poverty and to engage themselves for the right to education,” said Regine Stachelhaus, Executive Director of UNICEF Germany, during the award ceremony. “Sharika is a citizen of the world and an idol for young people through her commitment to children’s rights.”
On June 21, 2011, Shakira visited the Max Rayne Hand-in-Hand School for Bilingual Education in Jerusalem -- a school where Palestinian and Israeli children take calsses together. “My visit to Max Rayne School today here in Jerusalem – an inspirational school where students learn together, across all divides, speaking both Arabic and Hebrew, learning and playing together without difference – only reminded me, once again, that the most crucial decisions we can make for a better tomorrow concern how to raise and educate our children,” she said during her visit.
Part of Shakira’s duties as an ambassador is to travel and help raise awareness about human rights challenges faced globally. In November 2011, she paid a visit to a group of young girls in India – four of them who were already married off before the age of 11 – to promote the importance of girls’ education. “Many of them get married really young and that is part of their culture, though it’s not legal in India, sometimes we can’t fight culture but we can fight poverty,” Shakira said.
A huge portion of Shakira’s mission with UNICEF is to promote gender equality and that includes making sure girls receive an education. In October 2012, she traveled to Azerbaijan to meet with a group of players from UNICEF-supported national girls’ soccer league. “Sport is a great tool to [help girls] socialize and also for the government, society in general, to keep these kids in school,” she said. Shakira told the players that they had the power to encourage other girls to finish their education, particularly the poor and disadvantaged and those who might otherwise be married at a young age.
In January 2013, Shakira and novio Gerard Pique launched a virtual baby shower to help give babies around the world a healthy start to life. The couple shared in a statement: “Dear Friends, Having our first baby is such an incredibly happy time for us. That’s why we want to invite you to our baby shower…with a twist. Rather than asking you to give gifts to our new baby, we're asking you to honor him by supporting UNICEF in giving underprivileged babies around the globe a healthy start in life. It would really mean a lot to us.” Through this initiative, fans of Shakira were able to help UNICEF by purchasing “inspired gifts” which helped thousands of children around the world.