By Darnell Christie
LONDON – Nigerian pop star Yemi Alade called on Wednesday for coronavirus recovery plans to focus more on women, particularly in her home country, saying she planned to use a new role as a United Nations goodwill ambassador to help vulnerable people.
Alade, 31, joined a list of celebrities including actor Antonio Banderas and footballer Didier Drogba as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to raise awareness of poverty, inequality and climate change.
The singer gained global fame after becoming the first female Afro-pop artist to get more than 100 million views on YouTube, winning multiple music awards and featuring on Beyonce’s “The Lion King: The Gift” album last year.
“Women are among the 4 billion people who are trying to survive COVID-19 without any form of social protection,” Alade said in a video statement.
“I want to lend my voice to these women and other vulnerable people who make up half of the world that’s struggling to make ends meet. They don’t have the luxury of working from home and are putting their health at risk just to put food on the table.”
So far Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, has recorded about 57,600 cases of coronavirus and 1,100 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
Globally the coronavirus pandemic is expected to widen the poverty gap between men and women, undoing progress made in recent years and pushing an additional 47 million women and girls into poverty, according to the United Nations.
Countries must also be careful not to put climate change “on the back burner” as they plan to rebuild their economies after coronavirus, the singer said.
“Climate change and poverty go hand-in-hand, and neither is gender-neutral. Women in developing countries, such as my homeland Nigeria, are disproportionately affected by both,” Alade said.