Marta Vieira da Silva delivers a message about recovery in The Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. (UNDP Video)

Marta Vieira da Silva

Brazilian football striker Marta Vieira da Silva is one of the best female soccer players in history. Born in 1986, her brilliant football skills are compared to those of Brazil and World football legend Pele, She has won the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year five years in a row from 2006 to 2010. She was a member of the Brazilian national teams that won the silver medal at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. She plays for Tyresö FF of Damallsvenskan (Swedish Premier League) and is also a member of the Brazil women's national football team.

Known to her fans simply as Marta, she was appointed UNDP Goodwill Ambassador in October 2010 to promote international efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with a special emphasis on the empowerment of women. Marta is no stranger to poverty and the many challenges that come with it. She was born and raised in a poor neighbourhood of a town near Dois Riachos, in the Brazilian state of Alagoas, about 2,000 kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro.

“I don’t forget my origins,” said Marta during the appointment. “I have been given opportunities to succeed in life, but I constantly think about the ones who did not have this chance. We all need to contribute to help defeat poverty.” Marta is known in Brazil for giving back to her hometown with funds and sport supplies.

In 2007, fellow football players Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane invited Marta to play in UNDP’s Match Against Poverty in Fez, Morocco, where she became the first woman in the history of football to play in an internationally-sanctioned men’s football match. Marta participates in many UNDP Public Service Announcements to promote women’s empowerment and sustainable development. Marta was also featured next to the other two female UNDP GWA’s, Maria Sharapova and Misako Konno, in a campaign made for International Women’s Day, and she kicked off a UNDP women’s empowerment campaign at soccer’s World Cup in 2011 with an advertisement that was published pro bono several times in the Financial Times.
 
Marta has visited Sierra Leone, where she met with university students, civil society groups and young female footballers, and delivered the message: "When women succeed, we all win." She also met with women’s groups, including female members of parliament, who are lobbying for an increase in the representation of women in parliament from the current 13 percent to a minimum of 30 percent.

Marta also provided support to the Rio+20 Conference, inviting everyone through a video message to follow the Rio Conference process. She has also lent her image to the My World campaign, the UN global survey for a better world after the 2015 MDGs.