The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has appointed Emmy-nominated television personality, award-winning author and internationally acclaimed food expert Padma Lakshmi as its newest Goodwill Ambassador.

In this new role, Lakshmi will mobilize support for the Sustainable Development Goals with a focus on fighting inequality, discrimination and empowering the disenfranchised.

“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 in New York. “My main mission 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.”

Lakshmi added: “Fighting inequality is at the heart of UNDP’s mission. I look forward to joining forces with UNDP to help bring about a future in which every person, regardless of their income, their gender or place of birth, is empowered to live the life they want.”

Lakshmi was named UNDP’s latest Goodwill Ambassador in a ceremony last week at UNDP headquarters in New York. She was appointed by UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

“We are very grateful to welcome Padma Lakshmi to our global UNDP family and for her to join our fight against inequality around the world,” said Achim Steiner.

“Padma 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 is best known for starring as 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.

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