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Russia's UN Goodwill Ambassador Wants To End 'Taboo And Stigma' Of Menstruation

Natalia Vodianova moderates a roundtable on the topic of stigmatization in Minsk in 2018.
Natalia Vodianova moderates a roundtable on the topic of stigmatization in Minsk in 2018.

Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova has been appointed to serve as a United Nations goodwill ambassador and will use her new position to promote women's health and end stigmas surrounding menstruation.

"For too long, society's approach to menstruation and women's health has been defined by taboo and stigma," Vodianova said on February 24 after her appointment was announced.

"Menstruation is a normal bodily function. As UNFPA goodwill ambassador, I want to work to build a world where we no longer need to explain this," she told reporters in a videoconference.

Vodianova, 38, will be a campaigner for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said the agency's executive director, Natalia Kanem.

Vodianova, who has worked with UNFPA for the last three years, has focused on "breaking harmful taboos and tackling the stigmas that surround women's bodies and health, including menstrual health," Kanem said.

Vodianova said she was honored to be named a UN goodwill ambassador and said she looked forward to continuing her work to tackle the "myths and taboos" that women, girls, and vulnerable young people live with and "raise the standards of women’s health and dignity."

In some parts of the world girls and women who are menstruating may face exclusion from public life and may lack access to menstruation products, according to the UNFPA. Vodianova said such products were a "right for women, not just something nice to have."

As a model for the past 20 years, Vodianova, who lives in Paris and is nicknamed Supernova, has traveled the world working for luxury fashion brands such as Calvin Klein, Louis Vuitton, and Stella McCartney.

Vodianova was raised in poverty by a single mother with a half-sister who has cerebral palsy and autism.

She founded the Naked Heart Foundation to help children with special needs and their families and is a member of the Special Olympics International board of directors.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP

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