Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka – WOMAN of ACTION™

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A Celebration of Women™

is elated to Celebrate the Life of this activist that has devoted her life to the betterment of all woman.  Throughout her career, this woman has been determined to equate ‘women’s rights as human rights’. She was the first woman to hold the position and at that point the highest ranking woman in the history of South Africa.

We are excited to announce that she is now leading the charge as the new Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women) UN Women, graciously accepting the reigns from Michelle Bachelet.

 

 
 

WOMAN of ACTION™

 
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
 

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Women’s rights are human rights.

We have not done much to empower women who are on the margins of society. I saw this when I started out in politics. I recognized the importance of focusing on rural development in empowering women. I saw how even a small act – like teaching a group of women how to sew clothes and to sell them, forming a crafts association, as we did in Gugulethu – made a huge impact on their lives.

 
 
 

 

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (Zulu pronunciation: [pʰumziːle m̩lamboᵑǀʱuːkʼa]; born 3 November 1955) is a South African politician who was Deputy President of South Africa from 2005 to 2008. She was the first woman to hold the position and at that point the highest ranking woman in the history of South Africa.

She is married to the former head of the National Prosecuting Authority, Bulelani Ngcuka.

natal-locationI was born in Clermont, Durban, in Natal (now KwaZulu- Natal), in South Africa. My mother was a community health nurse, specializing in family planning, and my father was a schoolteacher. Our family was Catholic, and there was always much discussion about the way that the church looked at the issues my mother was facing in her work, issues of reproductive rights and family planning. My mother was determined to make a difference and express her opinion, and she was my first exposure to activism.

From an early age, I was aware of the world far beyond the walls of our house – from the apartheid under which we struggled to the hunger and poverty I witnessed in my neighborhood. We were living in a country that had so much, yet when I went to school, as one of the children fortunate to be able to bring my lunch with me, I saw my schoolmates who did not have enough to eat, who were hungry. I remember thinking to myself that this sort of thing shouldn’t happen in South Africa. I did not have the vocabulary to express the inequality that I saw, but I knew it was there. I recognized that I must share the food that I was lucky to have with my classmates – who had nothing. And the deprivation that I saw – in the context of the rich country that we lived in – angered me. It angered – and it inspired.

phumzile “Educate a woman, you educate a nation,” said Deputy President, Phumzile MlamboWhen I was a teenager, in the 1970s, I worked as a Youth Leader with the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).

It was there that I became a student activist. I quickly learned how to articulate my opinions about issues and to take a stand.

“Educate a woman, you educate a nation,” said Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo

It was there, surrounded by young women like myself, and most importantly, by older women from whom I learned so much, that I became socialized into politics and public discourse, involved in anti-apartheid marches and rallies. We were driven to bring down the state in its totality – to end apartheid. And it was within this context that I began to see women’s issues and to see how they fit into the greater picture of injustice. And I saw how South Africa was just one country – but that the upheaval we were going through was hugely relevant in the world.

And I have never looked back. As the years went by, I was fortunate to meet many women – in South Africa and beyond – through the work I was doing. I worked as a teacher, as my father had done, and I continued my work with the YWCA; in 1984 I worked as a youth director for the organization in Geneva. It was here that I began promoting the development of education in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. I began to see the clear connection between the education of young people – especially young women – and the ability to create change.

The advances we have seen at the political, social, and economic level in South Africa have been gained through struggle and will also be defended through struggle – and a part of this is the continued struggle for women’s rights. Women’s rights are human rights. We have not done much to empower women who are on the margins of society. I saw this when I started out in politics. I recognized the importance of focusing on rural development in empowering women. I saw how even a small act – like teaching a group of women how to sew clothes and to sell them, forming a crafts association, as we did in Gugulethu – made a huge impact on their lives.

The concept of home-based care and primary care is due to women. Many poor countries in Africa, including mine, do not have the capacity to cope with chronic illnesses. So home-based care is needed. Therefore women in developing countries have invented a layer in the healthcare system born out of need and care. Such a service is based on caring leadership and resourcefulness and needs to be recognized as a critical extension of the healthcare system without over-formalizing it.

In my work today, my driving passion is ensuring access to information for young people. Many young people – especially young women – don’t get accurate information about reproductive health. They don’t always know where to go, where they can speak openly without fear because a particular issue is politicized and it’s a taboo. I’m amazed at the hunger for information – a hunger that we must satisfy. If we don’t fill this need – by opening channels of communication, by establishing ways that young people can learn and grow – then we lose a tremendous opportunity to effect real change.

The young people of today should be made to feel proud – and above all inspired to acquire education and use it for growth and development of themselves and their country. How can we empower young people to take control of their own lives and their own futures, and in so doing, change the course of their own lives and those of future generations? This is my driving question.

umlamboFollowing my passion, I established the Umlambo Foundation in 2008 to provide support to schools in impoverished areas through mentorship and coaching for teachers. The vision is to help people win against poverty through education – to help lead these schools to produce learners who escape poverty.

Poverty and hunger could derail the progress the developing world has made. We face exposing our women and young people to untold hardships. This calls for all of us to do much more. The solutions to our circumstances cannot be imported from elsewhere; the solutions are within ourselves.

As I was by my parents and all the older women who surrounded me and held me up in my early years, particularly at the YWCA, so many of us were nurtured by many other people, our peers and older women. We must create room for younger women and in all walks of life to allow them to lead and contribute.

MDG Phumzile Mlambo-NgcukaUN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka from South Africa as the new Executive Director of UN Women, the organization leading UN’s work on advancing gender equality and women’s rights.

The announcement was made through the Spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General at today’s news briefing. The statement says: “Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka brings to this position, a wealth of experience in advocating for women’s issues with a combination of strategic leadership, consensus building and hands-on management experience.

Phumzile-Mlambo-Ngcuka(P)She was the first woman to hold the position of Deputy President of South Africa from 2005 to 2008. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka initially became a Member of Parliament in 1994 chairing the Public Service Portfolio Committee. She was Deputy Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry (1996-1999), Minister of Minerals and Energy (1999-2005) and briefly served as acting Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology in 2004.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka was Young Women’s Coordinator for the World Young Women’s Christian Association in Geneva (1984-1986) and served as the first President of the Natal Organization of Women, an affiliate of the United Democratic Front, when it was formed in December 1983.

umlamba girlsMs. Mlambo-Ngcuka established Umlambo Foundation in 2008 to provide support to schools in impoverished areas in South Africa through mentorship and coaching for teachers and in Malawi through school improvements with local partners.

Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy in Educational Planning and Policy from the University of Cape Town (2003) and a BA in Education from the University of Lesotho (1980). In 2003, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Western Cape.

  • From 1981 to 1983 she taught in KwaZulu-Natal, after which she moved to Geneva to work with the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) from 1984 to 1989, as the organisation’s Youth Director, where she advocated for job creation for young people within the UN system and promoted development education in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. During this time she also founded and directed the Young Women’s International Programme.
  • From 1987 to 1989 she was director of TEAM, a developmental Non-Government Organisation (NGO) in Cape Town, as well as being involved with squatter women and African independent churches to promote economic self-reliance and running skills training programmes.
  • From 1990 to 1992 she was director of World University Services, a funding agency, as well as being involved in the management of funds donated to development organisations by Swedish and Swiss government development agencies. She started and managed her own management consulting company, Phumelela Services, during 1993 and 1994.

 

Africa’s Global Partnerships

How are new and existing partnerships with Africa facilitating the exchange of comparative strengths?

Dimensions to be addressed:
– Going beyond access-to-resources to economic integration
– Exchanging knowledge and experience
– Widening the range of financing models

Carl Bildt, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden
Mustafa Vehbi Koç, Chairman of the Board, Koç Holding, Turkey; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on Africa
Mario Machungo, Chairman, Millennium BIM, Mozambique
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Founder and Chairperson, Umlambo Foundation, South Africa
Zhong Jianhua, Special Representative of the Chinese Government on African Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, People’s Republic of China

Moderated by
Ryan Chilcote, Correspondent, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Bloomberg Television, United Kingdom
 

 

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Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka – UN Women

 

Bio thanks to WhyWeCare.org

 
 
 

A Celebration of Women™

welcomes this powerful visionary and woman’s rights activist into our global Alumni wiht open arms, looking forward to watching great positive change in our world, with her at the helm.

 
carnations
 

Brava Phumzile!

 

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