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New UN Women Chief Is Named, a Surprise Choice


In a surprise move for many observers of United Nations top appointments, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka of South Africa has been named the executive director of UN Women, the lead agency for promoting gender equality and women’s rights worldwide. She replaces Michelle Bachelet, a former president of Chile who returned to her country in March 2013 to run for that office again this year. Mlambo-Ngcuka, 57, is a former deputy president of South Africa.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, a South African and the new UN Women chief.

The announcement about the new appointment was made on July 10 through a statement issued by the spokesman’s office of the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon. It follows on four months of top- secret vetting and much speculation.

“Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka brings to this position, a wealth of experience in advocating for women’s issues with a combination of strategic leadership, consensus building and hands-on management experience,” the statement said. “She was the first woman to hold the position of Deputy President of South Africa from 2005 to 2008. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka initially became a member of parliament in 1994, chairing the Public Service Portfolio Committee. She was deputy minister in the Department of Trade and Industry (1996-1999), Minister of Minerals and Energy (1999-2005) and briefly served as acting Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology in 2004.”

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Mlambo-Ngcuka was the young women’s coordinator for the World Young Women’s Christian Association in Geneva from 1984 to 1986 and was the first president of the Natal Organization of Women, an affiliate of the United Democratic Front, when it was formed in December 1983. She has a master’s degree in philosophy in educational planning and policy from the University of Cape Town and a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Lesotho. In 2003, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Western Cape.

Mlambo-Ngcuka is married with three children.

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Dulcie Leimbach

Dulcie Leimbach is a co-founder, with Barbara Crossette, of PassBlue. For PassBlue and other publications, Leimbach has reported from New York and overseas from West Africa (Burkina Faso and Mali) and from Europe (Scotland, Sicily, Vienna, Budapest, Kyiv, Armenia, Iceland, The Hague and Cyprus). She has provided commentary on the UN for BBC World Radio, ARD German TV and Radio, NHK’s English channel, Background Briefing with Ian Masters/KPFK Radio in Los Angeles and the Foreign Press Association.

Previously, she was an editor for the Coalition for the UN Convention Against Corruption; from 2008 to 2011, she was the publications director of the United Nations Association of the USA. Before UNA, Leimbach was an editor at The New York Times for more than 20 years. She began her reporting career in small-town papers in San Diego, Calif., and graduating to the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. Leimbach has been a fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies as well as at Yaddo, the artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; taught news reporting at Hofstra University; and guest-lectured at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the CUNY Journalism School. She graduated from the University of Colorado and has an M.F.A. in writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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New UN Women Chief Is Named, a Surprise Choice
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Chrislene Naidoo
Chrislene Naidoo
10 years ago

This is awesome news….Proudly South African.

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