Brilliant African Women: Graca Machel

Despite being the only woman in history to have been first lady of two separate republics, serving as the First Lady of Mozambique from 1975 to 1986 and the First Lady of South Africa from 1998 to 1999, Graça Machel should be better known for being a vehement and vociferous advocate for women’s and children’s rights and a social and political activist.

In fact, in 1997, the Queen made Mrs Machel a British Dame for her extensive humanitarian work. She currently serves humanitarian groups in a variety of capacities, for example, the Elders, the Africa Progress Panel, and the UN Millennium Development Goals Advocates Panel. She is also an Eminent Person of the GAVI Alliance and the UN Foundation, Chair of the Board of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes and Chancellor of the University of Cape Town.[source: GracaMachelTrust]

She is vocal and active in her roles and efforts to help both children and women of Africa achieve their true potential and she spoke to This Is Africa recently about her work empowering women across Africa and globally on the side of the 2015 Skoll World Forum.

Graca talks about the challenges overcome already  getting women into positions of power across the continent but the challenges still to be faced are getting young people, especially women, to transition from primary to secondary education and how once there to help them remain in education until they qualify.

Graca talks about her frustration with the position of women – continuing to be part of the informal sector- and how their contribution to society still cannot be measured in the economy. She is vehement in her measured insistence: Africa needs successful business women. And that is one of the many reasons she set up The Grace Machel Trust which has a number of projects working to help women into the finance sector and to progress and become successful in the business world. The Trust also focuses on combatting gender violence which, unfortunately, is a tragic side effect of women becoming successful in Africa.

Watch the video, here.

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