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Graça Machel
Madame Graca Machel.jpg
Graça Machel in 2010
First Lady of South Africa
In office
18 July 1998 – 14 June 1999
President Nelson Mandela
Preceded by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela*
Succeeded by Zanele Mbeki
First Lady of Mozambique
In office
11 November 1975 – 19 October 1986
President Samora Machel
Preceded by none
Succeeded by Marcelina Chissano
Personal details
Born (1945-10-17) 17 October 1945 (age 70)
Incadine, Mozambique (then Portuguese East Africa)
Spouse(s) Samora Machel
(m. 1975–1986; his death)
Nelson Mandela
(m. 1998–2013; his death)
Children Josina Z. Machel & Malengani Machel
Alma mater University of Lisbon
Occupation Teacher and then Education Minister
Religion Methodist
Graça and Samora Machel hosting Romanian Communist leader Nicolae Ceauşescu, Maputo, 1979
US President Barack Obama greets Graça at the memorial service for her late husband Nelson Mandela, Johannesburg, 2013
Graça Machel at SOAS in 2015

Graça Machel DBE (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈɡɾasɐ mɐˈʃɛɫ], née Graça Simbine pronounced: [sĩˈbĩni], 17 October 1945) is a Mozambican politician and humanitarian. She is the widow of former South African president Nelson Mandela and of Mozambican president Samora Machel. She is an international advocate for women's and children's rights and in 1997 was made a British dame for her humanitarian work.

Graça Machel is the only woman in history to have been first lady of two separate republics,[note 1] serving as the First Lady of Mozambique from 1975 to 1986 and the First Lady of South Africa from 1998 to 1999.[1]

Personal life[edit]

She was born 17 days after her father's death, youngest of 6 children,[2] in rural Incadine, Gaza Province, Portuguese East Africa (modern-day Mozambique), she attended Methodist mission schools before gaining a scholarship to the University of Lisbon in Portugal, where she studied German and first became involved in independence issues. She is also fluent in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and English, as well as her native Shangaan language. She returned to Portuguese East Africa in 1973, joined the Mozambican Liberation Front (Frelimo) and became a schoolteacher.

Following Mozambique's independence in 1975, Machel was appointed Minister for Education and Culture. In the same year, she married Samora Machel, the first President of Mozambique. Following her retirement from the Mozambique ministry, Machel was appointed as the expert in charge of producing the groundbreaking United Nations report on the impact of armed conflict on children.[3] Her first husband died in a plane crash over South Africa in 1986.

Machel received the 1995 Nansen Medal from the United Nations in recognition of her longstanding humanitarian work, particularly on behalf of refugee children.

She married then South African President Nelson Mandela on 18 July 1998, his 80th birthday. Mandela died on 5 December 2013 after a long sickbed involving pneumonia.

In 1998, she was one of the two winners of the North-South Prize.[4]

Machel currently serves as the chair of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH). She also serves as the chair of the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA) Eminent Advisory Board.[5]

Positions and awards[edit]

The Elders[edit]

On 18 July 2007 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel, and Desmond Tutu convened The Elders, a group of world leaders to contribute their wisdom, leadership and integrity to tackle some of the world's toughest problems. Mandela announced its formation in a speech on his 89th birthday.

Kofi Annan serves as Chair of The Elders and Gro Harlem Brundtland as Deputy Chair. The other members of the group are Martti Ahtisaari, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Hina Jilani, Graça Machel, Mary Robinson and Ernesto Zedillo. Desmond Tutu is an Honorary Elder.

The Elders work globally, on thematic as well as geographically specific subjects. The Elders' priority issue areas include the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Korean Peninsula, Sudan and South Sudan, sustainable development, and equality for girls and women.[10]

Graça Machel has been particularly involved in The Elders' work on child marriage, including the founding of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage.[11][12]

The Elders are independently funded by a group of donors: Sir Richard Branson and Jean Oelwang (Virgin Unite), Peter Gabriel (The Peter Gabriel Foundation), Kathy Bushkin Calvin (The United Nations Foundation), Jeremy Coller and Lulit Solomon (J Coller Foundation), Niclas Kjellström-Matseke (Swedish Postcode Lottery), Randy Newcomb and Pam Omidyar (Humanity United), Jeff Skoll and Sally Osberg (Skoll Foundation), Jovanka Porsche (HP Capital Partners), Julie Quadrio Curzio (Quadrio Curzio Family Trust), Amy Towers (The Nduna Foundation), Shannon Sedgwick Davis (The Bridgeway Foundation) and Marieke van Schaik (Dutch Postcode Lottery). Mabel van Oranje, former CEO of The Elders, sits on the Advisory Council in her capacity as Advisory Committee Chair of Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage.[13]

The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health[edit]

Machel has been the Board Chair of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) since 2013. PMNCH is a multi-constituency partnership hosted by the World Health Organization and seeks to achieve universal access to comprehensive, high-quality reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health care. The Partnership plays a central role in facilitating joint action on many fronts, mainly progress towards the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health, as tracked by the Countdown to 2015 initiative, and through support for the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health (Global Strategy) and Every Woman Every Child.[14]

The Africa Progress Panel[edit]

Machel is a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), a group of ten distinguished individuals who advocate at the highest levels for equitable and sustainable development in Africa. Every year, the Panel releases a report, the Africa Progress Report, that outlines an issue of immediate importance to the continent and suggests a set of associated policies. In 2012, the Africa Progress Report highlighted issues of Jobs, Justice, and Equity.[15] The 2013 report will outline issues relating to oil, gas, and mining in Africa.


  1. ^ Other women have been the consort in two separate monarchies. For example, Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122?–1204) was queen consort of France and later of England.


  1. ^ Guinness World Records. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  2. ^ "Graca Machel: There Is Nothing Exceptional About Me...". This Day Live. 16 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Impact of Armed Conflict on Children. Unicef.org. Retrieved on 2011-11-07.
  4. ^ "The North South Prize of Lisbon". North-South Centre. Council of Europe. Archived from the original on 2008-02-15. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  5. ^ "Eminent Advisory Board". 
  6. ^ Graça Machel (Mozambique) at the Wayback Machine (archived July 4, 2011). United Nations Foundation profile
  7. ^ http://www.unhcr.org/nansen/50374dc66.html
  8. ^ http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/02/22/umass_honors_nelson_mandela_with_honorary_degree/?page=full
  9. ^ "Graca Machel to receive honorary doctorate from the University of Stellenbosch". University of Stellenbosch. 18 October 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2010. 
  10. ^ "The Elders: Our Work". TheElders.org. Retrieved 2013-03-07. 
  11. ^ Elisabeth Braw, Metro International (2011-10-10). "Graca Machel: Within Ten Years Women Will Have Changed Africa". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2013-03-07. 
  12. ^ Graça Machel and Desmond Tutu (2012-08-01). "Early marriage robs children of their opportunities". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-03-07. 
  13. ^ "The Elders: Donors". TheElders.org. Retrieved 2013-03-07. 
  14. ^ "Reaching Every Woman and Every Child through Partnership" (PDF). World Health Organization. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  15. ^ http://africaprogresspanel.org/en/publications/annual-reports/annual-report-2012/

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graça_Machel — Please support Wikipedia.
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7970 news items


Tue, 17 Nov 2015 05:30:00 -0800

The daughter of former first lady Graca Machel, was interviewed by Talk Radio 702's Redi Tlhabi on Tuesday about losing the sight in her right eye during an incident of domestic violence. Machel says she was assaulted during an argument with her ...

BBC News

BBC News
Fri, 13 Nov 2015 04:36:23 -0800

Nelson Mandela's widow Graca Machel says the world has not forgotten the 219 schoolgirls abducted by Islamist Boko Haram militants last year. Mrs Machel who met some of the parents of the girls in Nigeria's main city, Lagos, urged them to remain strong.


Sun, 15 Nov 2015 06:02:19 -0800

Graça Machel's daughter was so badly beaten by her boyfriend that she has permanently lost sight in one eye. Josina Machel, who was constantly at her mother's side during the mourning and funeral preparations for her stepfather Nelson Mandela, was this ...

Irish Independent

Irish Independent
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 08:19:32 -0800

Graça Machel, David Norris and University Chancellor Mary Robinson among five to Receive Honorary Degrees at Trinity College Dublin. Pic: Maxwells David Norris, University Chancellor Mary Robinson, Graça Machel, Rory O'Neill, Fr Peter McVerry, Tomi ...


Mon, 30 Nov 2015 02:01:10 -0800

On Monday, Prince Harry begun a four-day tour of South Africa during which he will visit to Kruger National Park, one of Africa's largest game reserves. In Johannesburg he will meet Mr Mandela's widow Graca Machel and visit a centre dedicated to the ...

Irish Times

Irish Times
Sun, 29 Nov 2015 08:40:07 -0800

She was speaking in Ballina, Co Mayo where she hosted an international human rights lecture by Mozambican politician and humanitarian activist Graça Machel. Mrs Robinson recalled that during her time as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights she ...


Mon, 30 Nov 2015 00:48:45 -0800

Highlights of the trip include a visit to Kruger National Park, one of Africa's largest game reserves, where the prince will highlight anti-poaching efforts, while in Johannesburg he will meet Mr Mandela's widow Graca Machel and visit a centre ...
Mon, 30 Nov 2015 00:26:15 -0800

Ms Graça Machel, the Chairperson of ACCORD's Board of Trustees presented the Africa Peace Award to the AUC. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Chairperson of the AUC, received the award on behalf of the organisation at a gala dinner in Durban, South ...

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