UN Women gets first SA leader

2013-07-12 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The first woman in South Africa’s Presidency will now lead UN Women, the entity in the United Nations dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the UN, earlier this week appointed Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka director of UN Women.

In 2005, she was appointed in the place of Jacob Zuma by former president Thabo Mbeki as SA’s first female deputy president, a post she occupied from June 22, 2005 to September 24, 2008.

Mlambo-Ngcuka resigned in September 2008, after the ANC dismissed Mbeki as president, and joined the Cope party in 2009.

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

A statement from the UN said Mlambo-Ngcuka would lead UN Women to expand women’s rights and their participation in global issues.

Mlambo-Ngcuka takes over from Michelle Bachelet, a former president of Chile, who was the first director of UN Women.

In the statement, Ban said Mlambo-Ngcuka brings to UN Women a wealth of experience in advocating for women’s issues with a combination of strategic leadership, consensus-building and hands-on management experience.

The statement said Mlambo-Ngcuka is also known for her work with the Umlambo foundation, which she launched in 2008. The foundation works closely with teachers in Malawi and supports schools in the poorest parts of South Africa.

UN Women was created by the General Assembly in July 2010. It merged and continued the work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system.

Mlambo-Ngcuka and the entity will help UN member countries to put in place certain standards for women’s rights and provide technical and financial aid to these countries.

UN Women would also partner civil organisations.

Zuma yesterday congratulated Mlambo-Ngcuka on her new appointment. He said it was proof that South Africa played an important role in protecting the rights of women.

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