Shakira Mebarak

Goodwill Ambassador

© Shakira/UNICEF 2003
“I trust that as time goes by, there will be more and more people who want to help those in need. When that happens, the world will definitely come to know peace.” – Shakira Mebarak

Shakira Mebarak, world-famous singer and songwriter, is a devoted advocate for children. The singer, known professionally as Shakira, was appointed a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador on 24 October 2003. 

Shakira believes that, as an artist, she has the ability to raise awareness about human rights challenges globally and to spur action against them. “I believe that I have to use the resources provided by my artistic career in order to tell people about real problems in the real world, and I know that I have to contribute to the search for real solutions. I’m sure that our planet will be a better place if each one of us will take responsibility for the needs of others.” 

Shakira is the founder of the Pies Descalzos Foundation, which provides displaced and underprivileged children in her native Colombia with access to quality education. In addition to building projects which ensure that children have safe and well-equipped learning facilities, the foundation supplies nutritious meals; educational enrichment through art, music and recreation; and economic opportunities for families.  Shakira also established the Barefoot Foundation, which advocates globally for universal access to education and she is the co-founder of ALAS, a movement of Latin American artists and businesspeople dedicated to early childhood development interventions. 

As a Goodwill Ambassador, Shakira has expanded her child advocacy efforts on the global level. Through public service announcements and her participation in fundraisers and other events for UNICEF national committees, she has increased awareness of UNICEF’s work in areas such as HIV/AIDS, education and child protection.

Activity highlights

Born in Barranquilla, Colombia, Shakira showed promise as a performer at an early age. She recorded her first album in 1991 at age 14. Two years later, she won third place in Chile’s Vina del Mar International Song Festival in 1993.

As her popularity grew worldwide, Shakira was invited to appear on the first Spanish language edition of MTV’s Unplugged in 2001 and won her first Grammy for Best Latin Pop Album based on that performance. In 2006, her album Fijación Oral Vol. 1 Oral, Volume 1, earned the Grammy for Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album.

Shakira’s other prizes include several Latin Grammy awards, the 2006 American Music Awards Favorite Latin Artist and the 2007 People’s Choice Awards Favorite Pop Song for Hips Don’t Lie. The singer has had a number of successful musical collaborations and also wrote two songs for the film Love in the Time of Cholera, which is based on the book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

In March 2010, Shakira was honoured by the International Labour Organization (ILO) for her work promoting the advancement of children and youth around the world.

Shakira lives in the Bahamas.



Activity Highlights

Related links

Shakira appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador (press release)

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