Photo by UN Women
Photo by Kea Taylor for UN Women

Phumzile Mlambo

Executive Director

UN Women


Executive Director


UN Women


South Africa








What makes Phumzile Mlambo a Global Shaker?

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is currently Executive Director of UN Women, and the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. In 2014 she developed the HeForShe gender equality campaign, launched by actress Emma Watson and championed male Heads of State, corporations, universities and entertainment.

Mlambo-Ngcuka was the first woman to become Deputy President of South Africa, a role she held from 2005 to 2008, which at the time made her the highest ranking woman in South Africa’s history.

The politician holds a degree in social science and education from the National University of Lesotho, a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Cape Town and a PhD from the University of Warwick, focusing on mobile technologies to support teachers in resource-poor nations.

Mlambo-Ngcuka’s career started as a teacher before progressing to a philanthropy and charity roles. She was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1994, eventually becoming Deputy Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry, then Minister of Minerals and Energy. She was reportedly a driving force behind the government action to end a period where big mining firms controlled nearly all of South Africa’s mineral rights.

She is the founder of the Umlambo Foundation, which supports leadership and education.

Tags: Africa, South Africa, UN, UN Women

Last updated: May 25, 2020