In the year that Yalitza Aparicio entered the spotlight, she has given people much more than her talent. As the star of Roma, the 25-year-old actress and Academy Award nominee shed light on domestic workers. The former school teacher also put the beautiful city of Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, on the map and more importantly, informed the world about her indigenous people. With her platform, which has grown immensely in just a year and includes being named one of Time’s most influential people, Aparicio has also advocated for the rights of the indigenous community. Now she’s being recognized for it.
On Oct. 4, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named Aparicio, its goodwill ambassador for indigenous peoples. According to NBC News, Aparicio said she is “‘proud to be an indigenous woman’ and hopes ‘to go hand in hand with UNESCO in the best way, to be able to support these indigenous communities.’ She said indigenous communities also can pass on their traditional wisdom. ‘As my grandparents used to say: ‘You have to take care of the land because you eat it.’ So hopefully we learn this part.'”
Audrey Azoulay Director-General of the UNESCO said on Instagram, “I have this morning named Yalitza Aparicio UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Indigenous Peoples. Yalitza embodies something very special for our century, something universal. Indigenous peoples are witnesses to what we can do to make our planet better. They have always known, and we have a lot to learn about the challenges we face today, to build a sustainable world. Cultural diversity is in UNESCO’s DNA, and the personal story of Yalitza Aparicio echoes our missions and values.”
Her work as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador will be much as she’s already been doing. UNESCO stated on their website that “Ms. Aparicio will contribute to UNESCO’s work to ensure the integration of indigenous peoples everywhere and the realization of their rights, through the safeguard and celebration of indigenous cultural heritage, the inclusion of indigenous knowledge in environmental management, the preservation of biodiversity, adaptation to climate change, and equal access to education for indigenous peoples.”
One of the issues she’d advocating for is ensuring indigenous peoples have trained translators assisting them during court hearings. We’ve seen time and time again how some indigenous people seeking asylum at the U.S. border are unjustifiably dismissed because they don’t understand the court process or what is being told to them.
“There are several cases where there are indigenous people who are judged in a foreign language, without the right to have a translator, and I think it’s something that we should take action on,” Aparicio said, according to NBC News.
This appointment is very much deserved. Congrats, Yalitza!