Ms. Nardos Bekele-Thomas' remarks at Dr. Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka’s Homecoming Celebration
28 September 2021
Dr.Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka's visionary leadership has amplified women’s voices on an unprecedented scale and inspired work to engage youth, men and boys.
Thank you to the Programme Director,
I am in the midst of great women who have shaped the nation in no small way. Their contributions in various facets of life have helped shape the development discourse of South Africa for many decades. I am humbled to be sharing the stage with, among others,
Dr Naledi Pandor,
Dr Brigalia Bam
Dr Anne Letsebe
Ms. Gloria Serobe,
Ms. Nunu Ntshingila,
Ms. Nomso Kana,
Ms. Mantombi Mapanze,
Prof Lulu Makhubela,
I also want to acknowledge the presence of the Mlambo-Ngcuka family who have understood the importance of sharing their wife, mother, daughter and sister for the greater good of the world. Thank you for your sacrifice, patience and support over many decades, it is through your love that our dear sister has been able to thrive on the global stage.
Our Esteemed guests - ladies and gentlemen allow me to stand on the shoulders of the preceding speakers and say All Protocols Observed
It is a great honour and privilege to pay tribute to one of Africa’s finest daughters and trailblazers, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. Today, we honour her contribution to diminishing gender stereotypes that continue to impede the development of women and girls. Beyond her professional accolades, we are also here to celebrate her humanity and values which have carried her through this journey.
My dear sister, Dr Mlambo-Ngcuka, joined UNWomen as Executive Director when the entity was just two years old. We had high expectations for her when she joined the UN system because we had learned and witnessed her commitment to the cause of the underprivileged and in particular, women, throughout her career.
Since joining UN Women in 2013, she has exceeded all expectations. As a result of her leadership, UN Women is now an organization with a broader array of public and private sector partnerships, the entity has significantly increased its influence within and outside the UN system, and it has more than doubled in size and revenue.
More importantly, her tenure has ensured that women’s participation, rights and talents are acknowledged. Her visionary leadership has amplified women’s voices on an unprecedented scale. Her transformative and inspiring work has brought in new advocates with an emphasis on engaging youth, men and boys, traditional and cultural leaders, the private sector, philanthropies and the world of sport.
My sister, under your leadership, UN Women has played a significant role in ensuring that women are front and centre of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Your brainchild and game changing solidarity movement, HeForShe, which insists that gender inequality is an issue for all, has been influential in transforming conversations and knowledge on the most important issues affecting women’s lives.
In all the leadership positions you have held, you have championed and improved the conditions for women and girls all over the world. Your dedication and commitment to them will ensure that they inherit a better society:
Where women lead, participate in and benefit equally from governance systems
Where women have income security, decent work and economic autonomy
Where all women and girls live a life free from all forms of violence
And a society where women and girls contribute to and have greater influence in building sustainable peace and resilience, and benefit equally from the prevention of natural disasters, conflicts and humanitarian crises
While we at the United Nations are sad to see you go, we welcome you home and look forward to seeing you use your energy, passion, creativity, and profound sense of justice for the greater good. From our conversations, I know how passionate you are about the advancement of women and the youth. We share your vision and know that your ambitions for them will carry you through this new journey.
We thank you for a job well done and for the meaningful contribution you have made not only to the UN system but to the world. Thank you for using your position at the high table to kick down the doors for other women and girls to follow.
Above all my dear sister Phumzile, you have remained humble, accessible and your values have not shifted despite all your success, and we thank you for that. May you never stop daring to push the envelope and may God and the universe continue to meet you where your mind and heart are cast.