The Nelson Mandela Foundation in Houghton unveiled the latest instalment of the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture series at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
The lecture series has been core to driving debate on significant social issues and encouraging broader dialogue participation in order to address a wide spectrum of societal challenges.
This year, the lecture was delivered by Amina J. Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations. The theme of the lecture was ‘Centering Gender – Reducing Inequality Through Inclusion’.
Mohammed, who delivered her lecture on 25 November, joined the previous cast including former US president Bill Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former president Thabo Mbeki, Chilean-American author and human rights activist Ariel Dorfman, Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus and Microsoft founder Bill Gates, among others, in doing so.
“All these people have changed the face of dialogue and had a [significant impact] on their countries in one way or another,” explained Sello Hatang, Nelson Mandela Foundation chief executive officer.
“This year, however, we thought we should have a very prominent African woman come and address the lecture with the view of casting the spotlight on the issue of gender.”
Mohammed was appointed as deputy secretary-general of the United Nations in January. Prior to her appointment, she was the special adviser to former UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon. She was instrumental in the United Nation’s setting of its sustainable development goals. In light of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, Mohammed spoke passionately about women, especially in South Africa, noting that South African women have been at the vanguard of change globally.
“In the mid-50s, a group of 20 000 [South African] women marched to protest the pass laws,” said Mohammed.
“Their slogan was powerful: You strike a woman, you strike a rock. Many have cited this moment as a turning point in the struggle against apartheid. From that moment… through the struggle, the negotiations for a democratic country, and the constitutional assembly that provided this country with one of the most progressive constitutions globally, South African women have been leaders for change.
“We need to galvanise the international community to invest in women and girls – and to give them space – so that they can contribute to progress.
“We need to hear louder voices about the wonderful things our girls are doing. We need to sell the story of successful women in Africa.”