"In Brazil, women will be at the forefront of ending racism" — Executive Director

Speech by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka at the March of Black Women in Brazil on 18 November.

Date: Wednesday, November 18, 2015

[as delivered]

Excellencies, sisters, friends, it’s wonderful to be here.

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka spoke at the March of Black Women in Brazil on 18 November. Photo: UN Women/Bruno Spada
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka spoke at the March of Black Women in Brazil on 18 November. Photo: UN Women/Bruno Spada

I welcome the riverbank dwellers of the Amazon, the Babassu coconut breakers and domestic workers, prayer women and midwives of the towns of Brazil’s countryside, public officials, women of the Quilombola people and Ialaorixás. I welcome lesbian activists and academic researchers. I welcome mothers, grandmothers and daughters. I welcome my fellow sister ministers who are here with me today.

Today, UN Women is here to march together with the black women of Brazil.

Your struggle is our struggle. The struggle of UN Women is your struggle.

We are here in Brazil to say we have to end the violence against women. We are also here to say, down with racism and forward with living well.

We are beginning our campaign of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. The world campaign is starting here in Brazil. We are going to take it to Africa, to Asia, to Europe and to the Americas; but today we are starting here.

In my country, South Africa, women were strong and powerful. I can see here women are also strong and powerful. In my country, women were at the forefront of ending apartheid. In Brazil, women will be at the forefront of ending racism.

This year, the UN established the International Decade for People of African Descent. This will be the year when the UN and the whole world will stand with the women of African descent, now and for the years to come.

I wish you all the best when you start with the first of five regional meetings of this important occasion, which will be held here in Brazil in a few weeks.

Women unite against racism and gender inequality at the March of Black Women on 18 November in Brazil. Photo: UN Women/Bruno Spada
Women unite against racism and gender inequality at the March of Black Women on 18 November in Brazil. Photo: UN Women/Bruno Spada

This International Decade for People of African Descent will also be happening alongside the Sustainable Development Goals.

Together, the International Decade for People of African Descent and the Sustainable Development Goals must lead us to substantive equality for women of every race, colour and shape, everywhere in the world.

We have to support the President of Brazil and the excellent initiatives to fight violence against women. We have to support the struggle for legislation and its implementation for ending racism in Brazil.

I end with a quote from Nelson Mandela, who is encouraging us to focus.

Mandela said: “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or because of his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Forward with love, sisterhood and justice.

Thank you.