Letter from UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to her 15-year-old self


On the International Day of the Girl Child, UNICEF invited their audiences to write a letter to a girl who inspires them: a young leader, a family member, an influencer, their best friend or even themselves as a teen! As part of this social media activation, UN Women’s Executive Director joined several women leaders, including UNICEF’s Executive Director, UN Deputy-Secretary-General, UNAIDS Executive Director and ITU’s Director, to share letters to their younger selves. Read all letters in this Twitter moment.

Hello to me at 15.

I know you don’t really want any advice, but I’ve got a few thoughts for you from where I stand today, in 2020. You’re on the right track already. Have faith in your sense of what’s right, what’s important, and your power to speak about it.

Finishing high school is going to be vital, for you and all girls. In fact, it’s a key to a lot of what follows in our life, including becoming a teacher, a national political leader, and a global advocate for women’s and girls’ rights. Those rights haven’t been spelled out for you yet, but your instinct about them is correct. In the years ahead you’re going to be part of challenges to create equality in society where it doesn’t exist now. Your impatience with household chores and making sure they are equally shared out, with boys taking a fair share, is going to be seen as a central issue through the coming years for girls and women to be able to step up and take their full place in society, in politics, and in the economy.

What you see happening in South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, you are going to take forward in your own country, and internationally, as a fight for freedoms of many kinds. You won’t be alone. You’re part of a huge movement for equality and solidarity that is going to grow until it finds a home in girls’ voices in every country in the world.

For now, take up space! Speak out, speak up, support your sisters. The best way to prepare for your future in the world is showing up in the fights for good causes and doing your best.