Last week, the UN Women, the UN body charged with advancing gender equality, announced that Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka from South Africa would take the position of Executive Director. The announcement came on Wednesday from the office of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was the first woman to become the deputy president of South Africa, after climbing the political ladder from her role as a member of parliament in 1994. Prior to that she was the first president of the Natal Organisation of Women, which aimed to increase women’s rights in the country. In a recent interview with Al Jazeera, Mlambo-Ngcuka said
“I would like to take this work to a much larger constituency so the work of the woman is embraced by a larger constituency, beyond the traditional constituency for women… The issue of human rights is definitely at the top of the agenda.[For] women in areas where there is conflict and women in areas where there is peace, domestic violence is huge problem across the board and in different parts of the world. Poverty, poverty, poverty – this is one of the biggest challenges facing women.”
Mlambo-Ngcuka will start in her new position in August. She will replace former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, who resigned in March to begin another presidential campaign in her home country.