Graça Machel is the widow of former South African president Nelson Mandela and 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.
Machel earned 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 Tsonga. She returned to Portuguese East Africa in 1973, 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. 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. Her first husband died in a plane crash over South Africa in 1986.
When she married South African President Nelson Mandela on 18 July 1998, his 80th birthday, she become the only woman in the world to have been First Lady of two countries.
Upon the passing of Nelson Mandela, many have pondered the significance and impact of his legacy. During these exchanges, much has been said about the nature of effective, modern-day social justice leadership.
Doug Shipman, the CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, gives us a glipse of such leadership potential. As the director of a center that seeks to expand our understanding of the impact of the American civil rights movement and connect it to the struggle for global human rights, Doug uses his extensive educational background in issues of race, ethnicity and gender including the history of American minority groups and religion as applied to social movements, to make intergenerational, multicultural and global connections to human liberation causes around the world.
His insights offer a new way of conceptualizing what social justice leaders should look like and how they might be most effective.