Board Member Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka appointed UN Women Executive Director

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

The Global Fund for Women congratulates our board member, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, on her new position as Executive Director of UN Women.

Global Fund Board Chair Leila Hessini said UN Women picked the right leader for the right time in the life of UN Women. “Phumzile has always had an eye on women’s human rights, even in her work before South Africa’s independence.”

Fellow board member Gay McDougall called Mlambo-Ngcuka’s selection, " inspired choice, a dedicated leader. She will work hard for women."

Mlambo-Ngcuka was appointed Deputy President of South Africa in 2005, the highest office ever occupied by a woman in the history of her country. Prior to her role as Deputy President, she was the Minister of Minerals and Energy where she consistently won praise as one of the most effective ministers in the South African government. Mlambo-Ngcuka has been a long-time advisor to the Global Fund and joined the Board last year.

Mlambo-Ngcuka told us she is both excited and honored by her new role. “I took some time off after serving as Deputy President of South Africa to reflect on what to do next. I really want to continue my human rights journey by focusing much needed attention on women. So this is the right job at the right time.”

The Time is Now

Political, social and economic turmoil around the world coupled with “wars on women” on every continent, Mlambo-Ngcuka will shoulder daunting responsibilities as she leads UN Women into its next phase.

Formed in 2010, UN Women was established in part by Global Fund board member, Charlotte Bunch via the Center for Women’s Global Leadership as a way for the international community to organize around women’s human rights.

Michelle Bachelet, UN Women’s first Executive Director, gave the organization strong roots and now it’s prepared to grow, poised to reach its full potential as the strong and effective advocate for women’s rights envisioned at its creation, said Bunch.

Bunch added the head of UN Women must be an “institution builder,” someone who can, among other things, mobilize resources and hold countries and the UN accountable for their rhetoric about women.

"[She will need to] make women a central component of all UN system activities, from climate change to the rights of minorities and the elimination of poverty,” said Bunch. This has to be done at, “the global level as well as through a strong presence for women within all UN operations on the ground."

Global Fund for Women President and CEO Musimbi Kanyoro celebrates Mlambo-Ngcuka’s appointment and added, “This is one strong woman succeeding another strong woman. Now, for UN Women to succeed as envisioned, donors from the private and public sector must seriously invest in women. Phumzile will need to remind people that UN Women isn’t just about women, it tackles issues that affect the economies of countries and the health of their people.”

Staying Connected

Sitting on the Global Fund’s board is one way Mlambo-Ngcuka could stay connected to grassroots women’s movements, enabling her to advocate at a high level for women-led solutions.

"Staying connected means that she can have the audacity, strength, and risk to be able to say ‘I know organizations on the ground doing exceptional work,’” said Kanyoro.


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