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UNICEF Ambassador 2018 - 2020
Somali-American supermodel and activist Halima Aden was a UNICEF Ambassador from July of 2018 to December of 2020.
Halima is no stranger to firsts – she was the first Muslim homecoming queen at her high school, the first woman to wear a hijab at a Miss USA state pageant and was the first model to wear her hijab on the covers of major women’s magazine, Allure, British Vogue and Teen Vogue to name a few.
Halima was born in Kakuma, a refugee camp in Kenya, after her family fled civil war in Somalia. She lived there for seven years with her parents before moving to the United States. Early on she developed a passion for empowering young people and a desire to give back, which led to her introduction to UNICEF USA.
As a UNICEF Ambassador, Halima used her voice to engage young people across the U.S. to support UNICEF’s mission to put children first. She brought awareness to programs that save and protect children’s lives and used her platforms to advocate for children’s rights. As a refugee herself, she uniquely understands the needs, along with the hopes and dreams, of the 30 million children around the world who have been forcibly displaced by conflict.
“I’ve seen UNICEF’s incredible, impactful work for children first-hand. When I was young, UNICEF gave me an education, empowering myself, my family and our community in the process. It’s an honor to have this platform with UNICEF USA and I look forward to advocating for children around the world, just as others advocated for me,” said Halima Aden.
NextGen Mexico Summit
Aden began her UNICEF journey in August 2017, when she traveled with UNICEF Next Generation from Mexico City to Chiapas, the southern Mexico state bordering Guatemala. There, she met with migrants residing at local shelters and migrant women attending "village-schools". She also visited a UNICEF supported Health Care facility, seeing programs for mothers, babies and infants.
Annual Summit & Advocacy Day
March 2018, Aden inspired students at UNICEF’s Annual Summit in Washington D.C. by speaking on the Women’s Empowerment and Leadership panel session. She took part in Advocacy Day, meeting with Minneapolis Congressional leaders.
Kakuma Refugee Camp
June 2018, she joined TedX, UNHCR and UNICEF USA and returned to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya where she was born. This was her first visit back to the camp since childhood and in her TedX Talk she shared, “Although the children here [in Kakuma] may be refugees, first and foremost they are children. They deserve every opportunity to flourish, to hope, to dream, to be successful.”