Africa: Celebrating an African Global Icon Working to Improve the Wellbeing of Women and Children

n the last two months Mrs Graça Machel has received two global awards. These are: the World Health Organisation (WHO) Gold Medal Award and the World Prize for Integrated Development accorded to her by Niras, an international development organisation.

Johannesburg — This Africa month, the Graça Machel Trust celebrates its Founder, Mrs. Graça Machel, for her contribution towards the wellbeing of women and children. Her work has not gone unnoticed. In the last two months Mrs. Machel has received two global awards. These are: the World Health Organisation (WHO) Gold Medal Award and the World Prize for Integrated Development accorded to her by Niras, an international development organisation.

The WHO Gold Medal is the health organisation's highest honour and was awarded to Mrs. Machel for her enormous contributions to the health and wellbeing of women, children, and adolescents. It was presented to her during World Health Assembly event in Geneva on the 20th of May by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during World Health Assembly.

Speaking at the award giving ceremony, Dr. Ghebreyesus said; "I admire many women in global health, and today I had the privilege to present the WHO medal - our highest distinction - to one of them: Graça Machel. Thank you for changing the lives of so many women, children and adolescents. You are a true example for all of us"

Accepting her award, Mrs. Machel demanded continued commitment to the realisation of universal health commitments. In her acceptance speech she said; "We can't afford to come to 2030 and tell the mothers, babies, children, and adolescents of this era that we have failed!"

The Gold Medal was awarded to Mrs. Machel for her tireless work as Board Chair of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (The Partnership, PMNCH) for the past five years. During her tenure, she provided exceptional leadership at a critical stage spurring political and financial commitment to the health and well-being of women, children and adolescents.

Her second award, the 2018 World Prize for Integrated Development was awarded to Mrs. Graça Machel for her significant social justice achievements and leadership of the Graça Machel Trust. The Trust focuses on child health and nutrition, education, women's economic and financial empowerment, leadership, and good governance. The Prize will be officially handed over to Mrs. Machel on 12th September, 2018 at the South African Innovation Summit where other great African and global innovators will showcase their exceptional talents, innovations and ideas.

Mrs. Machel is the second esteemed Laureate, following in the footsteps of the late Dr. Hans Rosling, founder of Gapminder and is the first black woman to be awarded this accolade.

These two awards draw our attention to the role women are playing towards the realisation of the global development goals. Through the work of the Graca Machel Trust, Mrs Machel has managed to advocate for better conditions for women to access and create wealth through building networks and amplifying the various women already playing important roles in the economic development space. The trust has also worked with partners to advocate for children's rights, focusing mainly on their right to health, nutrition and education.

As we commemorate Africa month, the Trust would like to draw attention to the continued need for commitment by African governments in ensuring that the continent improves the wellbeing for all who live on it by 2030.

Graça Machel

Mrs. Graça Machel founded the Graça Machel Trust in 2010 where she focuses on advocating for women's economic and financial empowerment, food security and nutrition, education for all, as well as good governance. Among other numerous awards, Mrs. Machel has received the United Nations' Nansen Refugee Award in recognition of her long-standing humanitarian work. In 1997, she was made an honorary Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

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