FDC - Fundação para o Desenvolvimento da Comunidade

Graça Simbine Machel

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Was born on 17 October 1945 in Incadine (Mandlakaze), Gaza, Mozambique, two weeks after the death of her father. Raised by her mother and siblings, she received the invaluable gift of education, which she has passed on to other underprivileged children throughout the world. Trained as teacher, she holds a bachelor´s degree German philosophy from the University of Lisbon.

Ms Machel fought for her country´s independence from the Portuguese as a member of the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (Frelimo). While in exile in Tanzania, she met Samora Machel and the two were of Mozambique´s first female minister. In September that same year, she married Samora Machel, the country´s first President. As Minister of Education until 1989, Graça Machel worked towards the goal of universal education. From 1975-85, the number of pupils enrolled in primary school rose from about 40 per cent of all school-aged children to over 90 per cent of boys and 75 per cent of girls. When her husband was killed in a place crash in October 1986, Ms Machel threw even greater energies into her country´s development and intensified her work on behalf of children world-wide.

In her role as educator, Ms Machel has been active at both the national and regional levels. She was president of UNESCO´s National Commission in Mozambique and delegate to UNICEF´s conference in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1988. In 1990, Ms Machel served on the international steering committee of the World Conference on Education for All. In 1994, she was named Expert to Chair the Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children. Ms Machel is also one of the few female board members of the African Leadership Forum (ALF) and as such helped to create its African Women´s Forum. She is also a member of FAS´s Advisory Board. Beyond theses commitments, she remains an active member of many in Africa and throughout the world.

Over her career, Graça Machel has been internationally recognized for her achievements. In 1992, she was awarded the Laureate of Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger by the Hunger Project. In 1995, she received the Nansen Medal in recognition of her contribution to the welfare of refugee children. Ms Machel was also given the Inter Press Service´s (IPS) International Achievement Award for helping children throughout the world. Graça Machel wed former South African President Nelson Mandela in 1998. She is currently president of the Foundation for Community Development and Chairperson for the National Organization of Children of Mozambique.