Dubai, UAE - February 12, 2023
Thank you to the organizers of the TIME100 Impact Awards for this gracious honor and congratulations to my fellow awardees recognized alongside me this evening!
Thank you also to my loved ones and colleagues across the decades who have propelled me to the heights that we celebrate today. I particularly want to acknowledge the Foundation for Community Development and the Graça Machel Trust, the two institutions which have become my platforms to bring my passions and contributions to humanity as a women's' and child rights advocate to life.
As a rural girl from a small village in Mozambique who walked to school barefoot, I would never have expected to stand on a stage like this being recognized for my life's work as a social justice activist. Had it not been for my family, who invested in my education and nurtured my dreams, my fate would have been totally different.
All too often, not much is expected from girls who come from humble and limiting circumstances such as my own. But my story need not be an unlikely one. I know intimately that education is the key to fulfilling one's highest calling.
There are millions of girls around the world--particularly ones blessed with my skin color- who have bigger ambitions of impact than my own, and whose promise of a future is brighter than what we celebrate today.
This is why no effort must be spared to ensure this will be the last generation to endure the suffering of discrimination. Not one more child should have her future handicapped by forced marriage or severe malnutrition. Not one more woman should fear the violation of her body or the degradation of the silencing of her voice. We must all have the opportunity, the nurturing, and the backing, to inherit the dreams of our own aspirations and achievement.
I deeply appreciate tonight's accolades and recognition, and yes, we must celebrate our successes, but let us make no mistake that the important work of social transformation remains largely unfinished. There is much impact yet to be made. Let us channel this energy and our resources towards investing in women's leadership and the potential of girls, and in doing so, shaping the future of our communities into prosperous, healthy and equitable ones.
And in closing, I offer to all those who are fighting the noble fight for gender and racial equality, for social justice and economic advancement for all: Keep strong. Keep resilient. Be unyielding and steadfast in our struggle. Victory will be ours.
A luta continua!
I thank you.