Gigi Hadid details emotional, inspiring trip to Bangladesh in her Power of Women speech


Gigi Hadid shared an inspiring message during Variety’s Power of Women event — that we can all make a change by being a voice for someone else in need.

Though she is just 23, Gigi Hadid has fame on an international level thanks to her explosive supermodel career. She’s fronted major campaigns for iconic brands such as Chanel and Prada, and has 47 million fans following her every post on Instagram.

But it’s her philanthropic work as a UNICEF ambassador that brought her to Variety‘s Power of Women stage this Friday, where Hadid spoke along with fellow honorees such as Taraji P. Henson and Christiane Amanpour. These women are all using their celebrity status to improve the world around them.

Hadid spoke to this specifically during her own speech, noting that fame and in her generation’s case, social media, can both be incredible tools when spotlighting global issues and crises. Hadid recently traveled to Bangladesh to visit a refugee camp that housed the Rohingya people, a majority-Muslim ethnic group that’s fled Myanmar, and shared how documenting the trip helped raise awareness for them.

“We can get so stuck in our own heads, and our own worlds can feel very overwhelming at times, but most of us have the true gift of identity, and the power to express ourselves, the power to speak out for those who cannot for themselves, and the power to uplift one another,” Hadid said.

“I feel resentment towards social media at times, but as I documented my trip with UNICEF, I understood the true value — someone is listening. Be a voice for someone, support someone, encourage someone, tell someone how they inspire you,” Hadid stressed. “We cannot let the negative comments, the bad energy, and false assumptions of us keep us from doing the good we know we can do with our platforms.”

Hadid also mentioned in her speech that despite hardships and struggle, “these women and girls had such desire to do more, to be more, and to get educated to better their lives.”

“When we asked them how UNICEF could help in different ways, and most importantly, what they wanted us to tell the world about them, what it really boiled down to was that they want an identity,” Hadid added.

Hadid teared up discussing the refugee camp, saying “At the end of the trip I went home, and they were still there.”

She noted that while donations can help, it’s the “gift of identity” that the refugees she met want and need most.

“Yes, we can donate. Yes, we can help them, and every donation really genuinely does save lives and help people. I saw it. But that’s not what they wanted us to tell the world. They are human beings like all of us. What they would do for a citizenship, for an identity, to be able to scroll and type and have a voice in that sense.”

Watch Gigi Hadid’s full speech below:

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Watch more Variety Power of Women speeches here. Variety‘s Power of Women event is presented by Lifetime. Audi is a premiere sponsor, and additional sponsors include Shea Moisture, iHeart Media, and Icelandic Glacial. The official wine partner for the Power of Women Event is JNSQ.