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Photo credit: Hajer Naili

12,840 kmfrom home
"Being a migrant has to be an opportunity to start afresh and to build a better life. Migration is an empowering process for women."
Current Country: 
United States
Country of Origin: 
South Africa

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Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka is the Executive Director of UN Women and the first female Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa appointed by the former President Thabo Mbeki from 2005 to 2008. She is passionate about serving the youth and women. 

“I am a South African, through and through, and I am temporarily living in New York for work. I keep a very strong relationship with my country and will be going back there. But at the same time, I am a global citizen; I grew up in South Africa in the time of apartheid, so I know the value and importance of international solidarity.

I do everything the way we know women do and I pay attention to what is happening in my village, in my township. I am one of these people who send remittances to their country of origin.

I consider migration as an empowering process for women and we have plenty of success stories. Being a migrant has to be an opportunity to start afresh and to build a better life. I wouldn’t want to see a migrant woman, who has the skills and talents to lead and contribute to a country, get discriminated because of her birth certificate.

It is my third International Women’s Day as the head of UN women and I’m pleased with the important achievements the global community has made. Overall, the Agenda 2030 has positioned women and girls front and center and will bring lasting change.

Part of our work, when it comes to working with migrants, is about ensuring that people are able to start again and to get a better life than the life they are running away from, and in some cases to improve themselves to get stronger than they were when they left.

I believe that migrant women deserve particular attention as they face two layers of discrimination: besides gender inequality for women, they also face discrimination as migrants.

Reaching out to people who are in need is a shared responsibility. If I can be part of giving back to the people of the world then that is something I would like to do as much as I can."

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka​ is the founder of the Umlambo Foundation, that has a core mission of investing in leadership and empowering people through education in order to eradicate poverty.

She is also the former director of the Young Women’s International Programme at the Young Women’s Christian Association office in Geneva. 

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s):