Because the 9th of August was Women’s Day, August is Women’s Month, and Sunday, the 26th of August is Women’s Equality Day, OurHood has decided that every Tuesday we will discuss one woman in history whose brave actions paved the way for women today.

Last Tuesday, we honoured: Dr Frene Ginwala.

Today, we honour:

Champion of women’s rights, women empowerment and gender equality.

Photo credit: South Africa History Online

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, born in 1955 in Claremont, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, was appointed the Deputy President of South Africa in June 2005.
She was the first woman to hold this position.

After graduating with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science and Education, she worked as a teacher, as well as a lecturer.

Photo credit: Top Women Awards

Mlambo-Ngcuka achieved qualifications in Gender policy and planning at the University College in London in 1988.  
She then achieved a Masters in Philosophy degree in Educational Planning and Policy from the University of Cape Town in 2003.
That same year she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Witwatersrand Technikon.

Photo credit: Quotabelle

In 1983, when the Natal Organisation of Women (NOW), an affiliate of the United Democratic Front (UDF), was formed, Mlambo-Ngcuka became the organisation’s first president.
From 1984, she worked as a youth director for the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Board in Geneva, where she was involved in promoting the development of education in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Photo credit: Silke Endress

She was the director of a development organisation, where she was involved in serving women in informal settlements and African independent churches, promoting economic self-reliance and running skills training programmes.
In 1990, Mlambo-Ngcuka supported organisations promoting literacy and rural development.

Between 1993 and 1994, Mlambo-Ngcuka was responsible for promoting race and gender-sensitive organisational development, general change management, restructuring of institutions and linking change with productivity.

Photo credit: Chwarae Teg

Mlambo-Ngcuka formed part of South Africa’s first democratic government, serving in Nelson Mandela’s cabinet where she chaired the Public Service Portfolio Committee from 1994 to 1996.
For the next three years, she served as Deputy Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry.
In 1999 she began her tenure as Minister of Minerals and Energy, holding office for six years.

In 2005, under Thabo Mbeki’s administration, she became the first woman to hold the office of Deputy President of South Africa, during which time she continued to fiercely and passionately fight for the rights of the poor and the marginalised, with a special focus on delivering women out of poverty.

Photo credit: UNISA

In February 2006, as Deputy President, she formally launched the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA), and the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) was established a month later to address scarce and critical skills needed to meet ASGISA’s objectives.

After her political career, Mlambo-Ngcuka established the Umlambo Foundation in 2008, where she provided mentorship and coaching for teachers in disadvantaged areas.
Her vision was to invest in the development of school principals who could enact change in their communities, and to see schools develop learners who would become economically emancipated. Umlambo Foundation supports approximately 33 schools throughout the country.

\Photo credit: Zimbio

Following her departure from politics, she enrolled for a PhD in education at Warwick University in the United Kingdom, where she was on study break until June 2011.

Mlambo-Ngcuka was a board member of the Women’s Development Foundation, World University Services and Just Exchange, a body that promotes the export of Small, Medium and Macro Enterprises’ products to European Union (EU) countries.
She also held the post of Chancellor of the Tshwane University of Technology.

Photo credit: YouTube

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka took her fight for gender equality and women empowerment to a global scale when in 2013 she became Head of The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), where she’s campaigning for 3.5 billion women and girls.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is regarded around the world as one of the world’s most influential women, endlessly fighting for the empowerment and upliftment of women. A true champion of gender equality, she continues to leave a memorable and positive impact on the lives of people around the world.