Geri Halliwell, aka Ginger Spice of the Spice Girls added a dash of spice and a bit of girl power to the hallways of the Capitol building yesterday, when she visited with Congress as a goodwill ambassador for the UNFPA—the United Nations Population Fund. Wearing a cream-colored vintage suit, Ginger Spice looked, well, posh, as she discussed her travels to Zambia and the Philippines and the work she's done as a spokesSpice for the organization, which provides women around the world with healthcare and family planning. Halliwell is in town for a Spice Girls show at the Verizon Center but decided to spend her day illuminating the work of the agency for which she's advocated for almost a decade.
"When I was first asked to be an ambassador I was 26 and I had a certain amount of life experience, but now I've had a child of my own," Halliwell says. "In a way it highlighted it even more, the privileges that I have living in the western world."
After witnessing firsthand the horrific conditions for women in Zambia living with AIDS, she came to Capitol Hill because the United States is unique in not funding the agency. That stopped in 2002, when the Bush administration withheld funds to the UNFPA for its work in China with the Chinese one-child policy. "I find this absolutely heartbreaking because it was America that started it in the 1960s, that was so forward thinking to set up the UNFPA," she says.
And America started something else very dear to this Spice Girl's heart:
"I feel like girl power originated in America," she says. "It's not a British thing; the British are very much about staying in your box."
"The Americans are saying no matter where you're from you can speak out and achieve things," she continues.
Rep. Jim Moran, who accompanied Halliwell around Capitol Hill, tells Whispers that Halliwell's visit was especially well timed because the administration plans to slash this year's budget for international family planning. "It's the deepest cut we've seen thus far," Moran says.
But new leadership could bring a brighter future for the agency's funding. Halliwell's been closely monitoring the presidential election but hasn't gotten a chance yet to talk to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or John McCain.
"I haven't, but that would be amazing," the Brit tells our Nikki Schwab. "I'd love to have tea with them—all three of them together."