Why Padma Lakshmi Is Being Honored By The United Nations

While Padma Lakshmi has said "please pack your knives and go" too many times to count, she often uses her voice far beyond culinary competitions. Although she has famously earned the titles of best-selling cookbook author and television host, Lakshmi also uses those roles to vocalize social issues: During an interview with Bon Appetit, she explained why stepping up to be a strong voice for marginalized communities calls her. Beyond her mother and grandmother who instilled a strong work ethic, Lakshmi believes that it is important "to make your life worthwhile." A simplistic statement, that sentiment seems to drive Lakshmi willingness to bring to light stories that have been untold. 

On the eve of International Woman's Day in 2019, Lakshmi was appointed as a goodwill ambassador to the United Nations Development Program (per India Today). Commenting on her appointment, she asserted that "Many nations have greatly reduced poverty, but inequality has proved more stubborn." 

Through her role, Lakshmi sought to impact change and seek to lessen the discrimination faced by women, minorities, and others while supporting the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. During an interview with Artful Living, Lakshmi spoke of her goals within her role to focus on "development through the lens of equality." While she believes that this concept has yet to be done in a "profound way," she asserts that empathy and understanding should be tackled before change can be realized. Through her efforts of championing the underrepresented, she is being honored by the United Nations.

Padma Lakshmi named 2021 Advocate of the Year

At a December 8 award gala, the United Nations Correspondents Association presented Padma Lakshmi with 2021 Advocate of the Year. She joins previous recipients, including President Bill Clinton, Sir Richard Branson, Amal Clooney and many others (per a United Nations press release). Lakshmi was chosen for the award for her "powerful, compassionate and effective advocacy work in fighting inequality, especially now, as we battle two of the biggest crises the world has ever faced: climate change and COVID-19." 

Commenting on her award, Lakshmi said, "Fighting inequality is one of the main reasons why I joined forces with UNDP to fight for a future, where everyone — regardless of their income, gender or place of birth — is empowered to live the life they want."

Although change might not be quite as swift as she might want, Lakshmi's Instagram account is filled with not just inspirational words but actionable items that many people can accomplish. From listing organizations that provide assistance for civil liberties to highlighting women's organizations, her desire to engage and impact change is clear. In 2019, Lakshmi wrote a letter to herself for CBS News. Her closing words — "And though the journey feels long, it's really just begun. Everything will be alright" — seems to guide her desire to move the conversation forward, impact change, and implore others to act. This United Nations honor gives her another platform to be a voice for those who cannot be heard.