Graça Machel (b. 1945 – ) is an international advocate for women’s and children’s rights. Born in Mozambique , she is the widow of the late Mozambican president Samora Machel and the third wife of former Gender Equality in Gender Equality in South Women and African Economic Development president Nelson Mandela.
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Education and First Marriage
Graça Machel attended Methodist Mission schools before gaining a scholarship to attend University of Lisbon in Portugal , where she first became involved in independence issues. She graduated with a degree in Romance Languages. She is fluent in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and French. She returned to Mozambique in 1973, and joined the Mozambican Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and became a school teacher.
Following Mozambique’s independence in 1975, Machel was appointed Minister for Education and Culture. She married Samora Machel the same year. Graça Machel was Mozambique’s Minister for Education until 1989 and the chairperson of the National Organization of Children of Mozambique, an organization that places orphans in village homes. She has worked closely with families in her efforts to rehabilitate children, has acted to empower Mozambican women and has been a major force on behalf of worldwide literacy. Following her retirement from the Mozambique ministry, Machel was appointed as the expert in charge of producing the ground-breaking United Nations Report on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.
Her first husband died in a plane crash over South Africa in 1986. Since the death of her husband in a mysterious plane crash in 1986, she has campaigned vigorously on behalf of the world’s children and for human rights.
Human Rights Advocate
Ms. Machel was a delegate to the 1998 UNICEF conference in Zimbabwe, is president of the National Commission of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization , and served on the international steering committee of the 1990 World Conference on Education for All. She was appointed by the secretary-general of the United Nations to chair the Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.
Machel received the 1995 Nansen Medal from the United Nations in recognition of her longstanding humanitarian work, particularly on behalf of refugee children. Ms. Machel was also the recipient of InterAction’s humanitarian award for 1997, and received a major award from CARE as a result of her long-standing work on behalf of children.
In 1998, she married Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa.
- “The North South Prize of Lisbon”. North-South Centre. Council of Europe. http://www.coe.int. Retrieved 2008-01-21
- APP, Press Release: Africa Progress Panel demands action on global food crisis “reversing decades of economic progress”, 16 June 2008, http://www.africaprogresspanel.org
- “Graca Machel to receive honorary doctorate from the University of Stellenbosch”. University of Stellenbosch. 18 October 2007. http://www.sun.ac.za. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
- Gender Equality in South Women and African Economic Development