Leave No One Behind

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Executive Director of UN Women, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, Former Deputy President of South Africa

A Champion for Women and Girls Worldwide

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is one of the most influential women in the world. Why? Because she is the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. She brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this position having devoted her career to issues of human rights, equality and social justice. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka has worked in government and civil society, and with the private sector. She was actively involved in the struggle to end apartheid in her home country of South Africa.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka began her career as a teacher and gained international experience as a coordinator at the World YWCA in Geneva, where she established a global programme for young women. She is the founder of the Umlambo Foundation, which supports leadership and education. A longtime champion of women’s rights, she is affiliated with several organizations devoted to education, women’s empowerment and gender equality.

From 2005 to 2008, she served as Deputy President of South Africa, overseeing programmes to combat poverty and bring the advantages of a growing economy to the poor, with a particular focus on women. Prior to this, she served as Minister of Minerals and Energy and Deputy Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry. She was also a Member of Parliament from 1994 to 1996 as part of South Africa’s first democratic government.

Actions for Impact


Promote Human Rights

Design and implement national policies and legal frameworks that promote and protect the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by all women and girls, including those living in rural areas, and create an environment that does not tolerate violations or abuses of their rights, including those involving domestic violence, sexual violence and all other forms of gender-based violence and discrimination.


Invest in Rural Women

Strengthen and build the resilience and adaptive capacity of all rural women and girls to respond to and recover from economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters, humanitarian emergencies and adverse impacts of climate change, natural disasters and extreme weather events by providing essential infrastructure, services, appropriate financing, technology, and social protection, humanitarian relief, forecast and early warning systems, and decent work for women.


Suppor Women Leaders

Support the effective participation, decision-making and leadership of rural women in enterprises, farmer and fisher organizations, producer cooperatives, trade unions, civil society and other relevant organizations ensuring a safe and enabling environment, and provide support for those organizations, including by investing in programs that provide opportunities for rural women and girls to exercise their voice, agency and leadership.

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