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Graça Machel

Graça Machel

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Graça Machel, DBE  is a Mozambican
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

 politician and humanitarian. She is the third wife of former South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

n president Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing...

 and the widow of Mozambican president Samora Machel
Samora Machel
Samora Moisés Machel was a Mozambican military commander, revolutionary socialist leader and eventual President of Mozambique...

. She is an international advocate for women’s and children’s rights and in 1997 was made a British dame for her humanitarian work.

Graça Machel is also known for being the only woman in the world to have been first lady of two different countries.

Personal life

Born in rural Incadine, Gaza Province
Gaza Province
Gaza is a province of Mozambique. It has an area of 75,709 km² and a population of 1,333,106 .Xai-Xai is the capital of the province. Inhambane Province is to the east, Manica Province to the north, Maputo Province to the south, South Africa to the west, and Zimbabwe to the...

, Mozambique
Portuguese East Africa
Mozambique or Portuguese East Africa was the common name by which the Portuguese Empire's territorial expansion in East Africa was known across different periods of time...

 (Portuguese East Africa), she attended Methodist
Methodism is a movement of Protestant Christianity represented by a number of denominations and organizations, claiming a total of approximately seventy million adherents worldwide. The movement traces its roots to John Wesley's evangelistic revival movement within Anglicanism. His younger brother...

 mission schools before gaining a scholarship to attend University of Lisbon in Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, where she first became involved in independence issues. In that university, she earned a scholarship from Romance Languages
Romance languages
The Romance languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family, more precisely of the Italic languages subfamily, comprising all the languages that descend from Vulgar Latin, the language of ancient Rome...

. She is fluent in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

, Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

, and English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, as well as her native Tsonga
Tsonga language
The Tsonga or Xitsonga language is spoken in southern Africa by the Tsonga people, also known as the Shangaan.- Classification :Tsonga belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger–Congo languages...

. She returned to Mozambique in 1973, joined the Mozambican Liberation Front
Mozambican Liberation Front
The Liberation Front of Mozambique, , from the Portuguese Frente de Libertação de Moçambique, was a liberation movement which was founded in 1962 to fight for the independence of the Portuguese Overseas Province of Mozambique...

 (FRELIMO) and became a schoolteacher.

Following Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

's independence in 1975, Machel was appointed Minister for Education and Culture. She married Samora Machel the same year. Following her retirement from the Mozambique ministry, Machel was appointed as the expert in charge of producing the groundbreaking United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 report on the impact of armed conflict on children. Her first husband died in a plane crash over South Africa in 1986.

Machel received the 1995 Nansen Medal from the United Nations in recognition of her longstanding humanitarian work, particularly on behalf of refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...


In July 1998, she married South African President Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing...


In 1998, she was one of the two winners of the North-South Prize
North-South Prize
The North–South Prize is awarded annually by the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe to two public figures who are recognised for their deep commitment, outstanding achievements and hope they have generated in the field of protection of human rights, the defence of pluralist democracy and...


Machel currently serves as the chair of the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA
The Association of European Parliamentarians for Africa is an international non-governmental organisation founded by European Parliamentarians to reduce poverty and to protect human rights by supporting the well functioning of parliaments in Africa and by keeping Africa on the political agenda in...

) Eminent Advisory Board.

Positions and awards

  • Mozambican Minister for Education
  • Chairperson of National Organization of Children of Mozambique
  • Organization that places orphans in village homes
  • Works closely with families to rehabilitate children
  • Delegate to 1998 UNICEF conference in Zimbabwe
  • President of National Commission of UNESCO
    The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

  • Member of Commonwealth of Nations
    Commonwealth of Nations
    The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

    ' Eminent Persons Group
  • Served international steering committee 1990 World Conference on Education for All
  • Appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to chair a study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children
  • Recipient of InterAction's humanitarian award 1997
  • Received major award from CARE
    CARE (relief)
    CARE is a broad-spectrum secular relief, humanitarian, and development non-governmental organization fighting global poverty. It is non-political, non-sectarian and operates annually in more than 70 countries across the globe.One of the organization’s primary focuses in its fight to eradicate...

     as result-longstanding work on behalf of children
  • Machel is a member of the Africa Progress Panel
    Africa Progress Panel
    The Africa Progress Panel consists of a group of distinguished individuals chaired by Kofi Annan whose objective is to track and encourage progress in Africa, and to underscore shared responsibility between African leaders and their international partners for sustaining it.The APP was originally...

     (APP), an independent authority on Africa launched in April 2007 to focus world leaders’ attention on delivering their commitments to the continent. The Panel launched a major report in London on Monday 16 June 2008 entitled Africa's Development: Promises and Prospects.
  • Machel is also a member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation
    Mo Ibrahim Foundation
    The Mo Ibrahim Foundation was launched in October 2006 to support good governance and great leadership in Africa.It was founded by Dr.Mo Ibrahim, a Sudanese philanthropist and businessman who founded telecommunications company Celtel International in 1998....

    ’s Ibrahim Prize
    Ibrahim Prize
    The Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership is awarded by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to African heads of state who deliver security, health, education and economic development to their constituents, and who democratically transfer power to their successor. It was sponsored by Mo...

  • Chancellor
    Chancellor (education)
    A chancellor or vice-chancellor is the chief executive of a university. Other titles are sometimes used, such as president or rector....

     of the University of Cape Town
    University of Cape Town
    The University of Cape Town is a public research university located in Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. UCT was founded in 1829 as the South African College, and is the oldest university in South Africa and the second oldest extant university in Africa.-History:The roots of...

  • Doutora Honoris Causa by University of Évora
    University of Évora
    The University of Évora is a public university in Évora, Portugal.-History:The University of Évora, the second oldest in Portugal, was founded in the 16th century by Cardinal Infante Dom Henrique , and by the Pope Paul IV, and it was delivered to the Society of Jesus.The Jesuit college...

    , Portugal, 14 November 2008
  • On 28 August 2007 Graça Machel was made an honorary Dame Commander
    Knight Commander
    Knight Commander is the second most senior grade of seven British orders of chivalry, three of which are dormant . The rank entails admission into knighthood, allowing the recipient to use the title 'Sir' or 'Dame' before his or her name...

     of the Order of the British Empire
    Order of the British Empire
    The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

     at the request of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
    Gordon Brown
    James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

  • Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) Honoris Causa in March 2008, from the University of Stellenbosch.

The Elders

On 18 July 2007 in Johannesburg
Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo'burg or Egoli, is the largest city in South Africa, by population. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa...

, South Africa, Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing...

, Graça Machel, and Desmond Tutu
Desmond Tutu
Desmond Mpilo Tutu is a South African activist and retired Anglican bishop who rose to worldwide fame during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid...

 convened "The Global Elders
Global Elders
The Elders is an international non-government organisation of public figures noted as elder statesmen, peace activists, and human rights advocates, brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007...

, a group of world leaders to contribute their wisdom, leadership and integrity to tackle some of the world's toughest problems. Mandela announced its formation in a speech on his 89th birthday. Tutu served as its initial chair. Other founding members included Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan
Kofi Atta Annan is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006...

, Ela Bhatt
Ela Bhatt
Ela Ramesh Bhatt is the founder of the Self-Employed Women's Association of India . A lawyer by training, Bhatt is a respected leader of the international labour, cooperative, women, and micro-finance movements who has won several national and international awards.-Early life:Ela Bhatt was born in...

, Gro Harlem Brundtland
Gro Harlem Brundtland
Gro Harlem Brundtland is a Norwegian Social democratic politician, diplomat, and physician, and an international leader in sustainable development and public health. She served three terms as Prime Minister of Norway , and has served as the Director General of the World Health Organization...

, Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

, Li Zhaoxing
Li Zhaoxing
Li Zhaoxing is a former foreign minister of the People's Republic of China. He held that office from 2003 to 2007.He graduated from Peking University in 1964...

, Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson
Mary Therese Winifred Robinson served as the seventh, and first female, President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002. She first rose to prominence as an academic, barrister, campaigner and member of the Irish Senate...

 and Muhammad Yunus
Muhammad Yunus
Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi economist and founder of the Grameen Bank, an institution that provides microcredit to help its clients establish creditworthiness and financial self-sufficiency. In 2006 Yunus and Grameen received the Nobel Peace Prize...


The Elders will be independently funded by a group of donors, including Richard Branson
Richard Branson
Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English business magnate, best known for his Virgin Group of more than 400 companies....

, Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel
Peter Brian Gabriel is an English singer, musician, and songwriter who rose to fame as the lead vocalist and flautist of the progressive rock group Genesis. After leaving Genesis, Gabriel went on to a successful solo career...

, Ray Chambers, Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
Michael "Boogalo Shrimp" Chambers is an American dancer and actor known for his role as "Turbo" in the 1984 cult classic film Breakin and the 1984 hit sequel Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo...

, Bridgeway Foundation, Pam Omidyar, Humanity United, Amy Robbins
Amy Robbins
Amy Robbins is an English actress best known for her role as Dr. Jill Weatherill in the British television series The Royal. Prior to her current role she played Police Sergeant Rachel James in the BBC One hospital drama Casualty for one series...

, Shashi Ruia, Dick Tarlow and the United Nations Foundation
United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation started up in 1998 with a $1 billion grant from Ted Turner in order to support the United Nations in executing its programs worldwide. The creation of the Foundation was intended to encourage other donors to also support the UN in its activities...


External links