Graca Machel, born 17 October 1945, is a Mozambican politician and humanitarian. She is the widow of former presidents of both Mozambique and South Africa and the only woman in modern history to have served as First Lady of two countries; Mozambican president Samora Machel (1975- 1986) and South African president Nelson Mandela (1998 – 2013). Machel is an international advocate for women’s and children’s rights and was made an honorary British Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997 for her humanitarian work.
Graça Machel is a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), a group of ten distinguished individuals who advocate at the highest levels for equitable and sustainable development in Africa. She facilitates coalition building to leverage and broker knowledge, and convenes decision-makers to influence policy for lasting change in Africa.
Machel has been particularly involved in The Elders’ work on child marriage, including the founding of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage. Her list of accomplishments are many and we’ll post those throughout the month. But take some time to do your own research because she is an extraordinary and legendary widow.
“Our lives will only have a meaning if each one of us can confidently say that I was able to bring five, ten, fifteen and twenty women along with me…do not climb alone” – Graca Machel