Iman today becomes the first global advocate of Care in the organization’s 75-year history. In the role, which was created for the supermodel, Iman will work to strengthen the organization’s ongoing mission since World War II of creating a world without poverty where all people live with dignity and security.
“All these years, I’ve helped organizations, but I’ve never committed to being an ambassador,” said Iman, who has supported women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment. “This found me at the right time in my life. Poverty is one of the things that move me. I understand it. I really identify with refugees. I became a refugee in 1972 when I walked from the border of Somalia to Kenya.”
Iman said she’ll never forget what workers for the NGO in Kenya did for her, calling them “the angels in our world who took care of refugees. I was 16 years old and separated from my family. I was an ambassador’s daughter, and I had never left home. They took me to the university and found me a job and a place to live. Imagine how my trajectory would have changed if I hadn’t had those angels,” said Iman, who was a student at the University of Nairobi, when she was discovered by photographer Peter Beard.
“We hear there are about 71 million refugees [worldwide],” Iman said. “They’re nameless and faceless, but they have hopes and dreams. Nobody wants to go to another country where they don’t know anybody and they’re not wanted. We’re going to go to the camps and help girls and women feel safe, whether it’s Sudan, Syria or the Congo. I want to lead with empathy, compassion, dignity and with love.”
“Iman has spent her life using her considerable talent as a model and entrepreneur to advocate on behalf of vulnerable people,” said Care president and chief executive officer Michelle Nunn. “Care has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the world’s poorest. Together we can multiply our impact and tackle global issues.”
Iman joined model Bethann Hardison‘s Diversity Coalition to promote diversity and inclusion — women and men of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities — on the runways. “I’m very proud of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and designers globally. The change in the past seven years is palpable. They’ve come to the table and changed the whole language. The idea is to be seen. Imagine how a young girl feels, if she thinks she’s not being seen.”
Some of the world’s oldest and most persistent problems will require 21st-century solutions, Iman said, adding, “Care is spearheading the innovation that will deliver bold and sustainable change.”