UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to attend the 25th African Union Summit in Johannesburg


UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will travel to Johannesburg from 14-15 June to attend the 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU), under the theme: “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”. The theme provides an ideal opportunity to advocate for the highest level of political commitment and leadership for gender equality and women’s empowerment in Africa.

On this occasion, the Executive Director will seek to ensure that gender equality and women’s empowerment are integrated in all discussions, particularly by showcasing UN Women’s impact and work in Africa. She will further stress the need to cement progress in the continent by capitalizing on policy and advocacy spaces to secure commitment from various stakeholders. This summit provides an opportunity to galvanize and ramp-up action for gender equality and women’s empowerment, and hold African Union Member States and the international community accountable for related commitments. 

On 14 June, in the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka will attend the opening ceremony of the 25th AU Summit and the thematic debate, during which UN Women will show a five-minute video showcasing impact stories from its work in the field. The day will conclude with an official dinner with H.E. Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa.

On 15 June, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka will discuss gender equality and women’s empowerment in bilateral meetings with the Presidents of both Zambia and the Central African Republic to discuss the path to peace and stability, as well as UN Women’s support amid the current crisis in the Central African Republic. At a working lunch with the high-level advocacy platform AIDS Watch Africa later in the day, the Executive Director will address its Heads of State and Government Action Committee to share UN Women’s vision, and stimulate commitment and action to address gender equality and women’s empowerment as a strategy for ending AIDS in Africa.

Memorandum of Understanding

In 2014, UN Women signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the African Union Commission on mutual cooperation and collaboration, which covered the critical areas of women’s economic empowerment; promotion of women’s leadership and participation in decision-making at local, national and regional levels; prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women/girls; the protection of women’s rights in conflict and post conflict situations, and women’s participation in all areas of peace and security efforts including conflict prevention, conflict resolution, peacemaking and longer-term efforts at peacebuilding and recovery; promotion of women’s health including the reduction of maternal mortality; and the strengthening of regional and global norms, policies and standards on gender equality and women’s empowerment that are implemented by governments and other stakeholders at all levels.

To increase awareness of the AU’s formal adoption of its “Common Position on ending child marriage in Africa”, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka will take part in a press conference on the issue. In the evening, the Executive Director will participate in the summit’s closing ceremony, where the key outcomes will be presented.

Throughout the Summit, the Executive Director will highlight that despite progress on economic development, the combination of protracted conflicts, new threats to peace and stability and disease epidemics have posed a significant risk to the region’s growth prospects. As a result, the empowerment of women and girls remains a precondition for Africa to reach its full potential and to sustain such growth.