Press Release

Linda Gray to Head Global Advocacy Campaign

20 January 1998

UNITED NATIONS -- Actress Linda Gray will lead an international advocacy campaign for reproductive health care, gender equality and the empowerment of women throughout the world.

The advocacy campaign, called "Face to Face", will be implemented by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and an alliance of European non-governmental organizations.

Ms. Gray, in her capacity as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNFPA, will direct the Face to Face campaign.

The Face to Face campaign will have the common aim of sensitizing the public to the need for universal access to reproductive heath care, the empowerment of women and to end harmful practices such as gender discrimination and female genital mutilation. Another objective of the campaign is to insure that population assistance for developing countries from donor nations is maintained or augmented.

"We need to be constantly chipping away at long-held cultural prejudices against gender equality, human rights and reproductive choice, especially for women in developing countries," said Dr. Nafis Sadik, UNFPA Executive Director.

"Reproductive rights can be realized only if we talk openly about them, if we do not sweep the difficult and sensitive issues under the carpet, and if we are well informed and present our facts professionally and convincingly. Advocacy deals with views about women’s roles and their rights which often translate into matters of life and death, whether it be gender-based violence, female genital mutilation and other harmful traditional practices, or very simply the provision or lack of maternal health care.

"We are so very pleased and honoured that Ms. Gray has agreed to be our Goodwill Ambassador and to head this important campaign. In addition to being a fine actress, she is an activist, a deeply caring person and an eloquent advocate," said Dr. Sadik.

The actress, known worldwide for her portrayal of Sue Ellen Ewing on the TV program "Dallas", has also been actively involved in women’s and environmental issues for a number of years. Ms. Gray recently returned from a fact-finding trip to Nicaragua where she visited an adolescent health centre in Managua, a health worker training centre in Matagalpa as well as visited with people using family planning in their homes in rural villages in the mountains and cities of Nicaragua.

"I’m not a population expert, nor do I have all the answers to the complex issues that surround population. My role is to meet people, talk with them, listen to what they have to say. Then, perhaps, working together we can begin to address the issues of their fears, frustrations, desires, hopes and dreams. Because, while we are from different cultures, we have one heart," says Ms. Gray.

"In Nicaragua, I met people, face to face, who showed me that something can be, and is being done about population. Where once women had 11 children, now they have three or four, and with adequate resources, teenage pregnancy rates can be reduced. That’s why I’m working with UNFPA in its campaign to bring help and dignity to people throughout the world."

"A lot of people out there are looking for direction on how to help. This campaign will give them a way to lend a hand," Ms. Gray said.

Working closely with Ms. Gray will be Waris Dirie, the activist and fashion model, who is a UNFPA Special Ambassador in the campaign to eradicate female genital mutilation, and UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador Keiko Kishi, one of Japan’s most prominent movie and stage actresses, as well as an accomplished writer who has won several literary awards. Ms. Gray will travel on behalf of the campaign to other countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe in the near future.

On a country-by-country basis, the campaign will consist of celebrity media tours, video news releases, TV, radio and magazine coverage, and posters in major cities. A "What You Can Do" information booklet in seven languages targeted at citizens of all ages, and a variety of local campaign events and related grassroots activities are planned. The campaign will also produce a made-for-television movie which will deal with sensitive population issues.

Among the European organizations supporting the campaign are:

  • Associacao para o Planeamento de Familia (Portugal)
  • Association Suisse de Planning Familial et d’Education Sexuelle (Switzerland)
  • Associazione Italiana Donne per lo Sviluppo (AIDOS, Italy)
  • Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevolkerung (Germany)
  • Equilibres et Populations (France)
  • Federación de Planificación Familiar de Espana (Spain)
  • FFBPFES (Belgium) - IPPF Family Planning Association
  • Foreningen Sex & Samfund (The Danish Family Planning Association, Denmark)
  • Irish Family Planning Association (Ireland)
  • Marie Stopes International (United Kingdom)
  • Mouvement Français pour le Planning Familial (France)
  • NSSR (The Norwegian Family Planning Association, Norway)
  • Österreichische Gesellschaft für familienplanung (Austria)
  • Population Concern (United Kingdom)
  • Riksforbundet for sexuell upplysning (Swedish Association for Sex Education)
  • Rutgers Foundation (The Netherlands)
  • Trefpunt CGSO (Belgium)
  • Väestöliitto (The Family Federation of Finland)
  • World Population Foundation (The Netherlands)

Contact Information:

Abubakar Dungus
Tel.: +1 (212) 297-5031

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