Thomas Lau/Celebrity Photo
01/26/2006 AT 06:30 PM EST
Nicole Kidman has accepted a new role – as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations.
The Oscar-winner will work with the U.N.'s Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) on advancing women's rights around the globe and ending violence against women.
Kidman, 38, said Thursday that her mother, Janelle, first told her about UNIFEM after hearing about the group's work in Cambodia on a BBC radio program.
"She calls me up and says, 'You've got to hear this,'" recalled Kidman. The actress also credited being raised by "parents with a strong social conscious" for her desire to take on such a role.
"My family, we sat around the dinner table, we had political conversations. My father always said, 'You need to be involved. Don't be a voyeur, be a participator,'" Kidman told the Associated Press.
For her work with the U.N., Kidman will travel the globe on goodwill missions. She said she hopes to bring her children – Connor, 10, and Isabella, 13 – on the visits that may include Sudan, Congo, Liberia, Afghanistan and Cambodia. "I believe (the experiences) will help them step into their responsibility as privileged children," she said.
Kidman's first mission is in March, though she did not disclose any other details about it. "I am ready to go," said the actress who was wearing a ring on her left ring finger. (She was first spotted wearing a diamond ring on her wedding finger in November.)
Earlier in the day Kidman was named Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia for both her charity work and her acting. It is Australia's highest civilian honor.
"I am grateful for the opportunities that Australia has given me and it has always been a privilege to represent my country wherever and whenever I can," she said in a statement.