At a special event today presided by President of Nepal Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, Nepal’s singing nun Ani Choying Drolma was appointed UNICEF Nepal’s first ever National Ambassador.
In her new role as the voice of Nepali children, Ani will help UNICEF’s clarion call to protect Nepali children and adolescents from violence and, create a happy and safe environment where they can grow up to become functional adults, good parents, and responsible citizens later in life.
“Through their popularity and celebrity-status, UNICEF ambassadors lend their voices to send a loud and clear message that children and their well-being are a priority,” said Hanaa Singer, UNICEF Representative to Nepal. “Ani has demonstrated a genuine commitment to communicating clear messages of healing and peace through her music. She is a testament to the power music can have when it is associated with a cause.”
Ani first teamed up with UNICEF in 2013, when she appeared in a powerful video unveiled during the launch of UNICEF’s end violence against children initiative, which urges ordinary citizens, lawmakers and government to speak out more forcefully to fight violence against children and adolescents.
In Nepal, around 1.6 million children are working as child labourers while 5000 children live on the streets. Similarly, 11,500 women and children were trafficked or were attempted to be trafficked in the year 2011. Corporal punishment is still a common method of disciplining children in home and school. Eight out of 10 children (2-14 years) are subjected to violent discipline in mid and far western Nepal while 4 out of 10 caregivers believe children need to be physically punished.
Violence inflicts not only physical wounds but leaves mental scars on children. It affects their physical and mental health, compromises their ability to learn and socialize and undermines their development.
“I promise to use my experience and popularity to bring the issues of children and adolescents to the forefront,” said Ani. “Through my songs, I seek to reach all the nooks and crannies of Nepal in an effort to improve the lives of children and adolescents.”
Ani is already a champion for children and women’s rights with her efforts in advocating for women and girls’ education, including a school for nun.
As a UNICEF National Ambassador, Ani joins an impressive roster of celebrities, including soccer star David Beckham, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, actor and martial arts expert Jackie Chan, singer and songwriter Shakira, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and many more, lending their voices and popularity to improve the lives of children. UNICEF first began enlisting the help of celebrities to reach the hearts and minds of the public, particularly young people, with Danny Kaye, one of the world’s most beloved entertainers pioneering the role of Ambassador-at-Large in 1954. This was taken on by Oscar-winning actress Audrey Hepburn and others building up into the current distinguished list of international, regional and national goodwill ambassadors.