UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. agency promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women appointed Academy Award-winning actress Anne Hathaway as a global goodwill ambassador on Wednesday, calling her a longstanding supporter of women’s and girls’ rights.

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said Hathaway will put the spotlight on women’s work at home caring for their families as a key barrier to equality.

“The `motherhood penalty’ … is a particularly insidious demonstration of gender inequality in the workplace,” Mlambo-Ngucka said Wednesday. “The appointment of Anne is timely because this year UN Women is driving hard to foster more positive mindsets and practical arrangements around workplaces that build and support equality for women.”

She said Hathaway will be making the case that parental leave for mothers and fathers and childcare services are two important ways for employers “to demonstrate that they understand the value of their staff — both male and female.”

Hathaway, who won the best supporting actress Oscar in 2013 for her role in “Les Miserables,” said in a statement that she feels “honored and inspired by this opportunity to aid in advancing gender equality.”

“Significant progress has already been made but it is time that we collectively intensify our efforts and ensure that true equality is finally realized,” she said.

The 33-year-old actress previously served as an advocate for the Nike Foundation, which supports programs to empower adolescent girls in the developing world, and traveled to Kenya and
Ethiopia to raise awareness on child marriage. In 2013, she narrated the CNN documentary, “Girl Rising,” which focused on the power of female education.

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