27 June 2014
Nelson Mandela’s widow, Graça Machel, is to resume her work as a global advocate for women’s and children’s rights following a six-month period of mourning for her late husband, the Nelson Mandela Foundation said on Friday.
Machel will welcome over 1 000 international delegates at a meeting of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Organisation in Johannesburg on Monday. Machel chairs the forum, and is also an African ambassador for Unicef’s A Promise Renewed, an initiative that supports the UN’s Every Woman Every Child movement.
In a statement issued by the foundation, Machel said that Mandela’s death in December had robbed South Africa of the father of its democracy, and the world of an internationally respected icon – while she had lost “my best friend, beloved husband, and guide.
“I was fortunate that in Madiba I found a soul mate and a fellow advocate for children and women’s rights,” Machel said. “I am inspired by his rich legacy that promotes justice, compassion, and solidarity.
“Children were very dear to Madiba, and his last wish was to build the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. This is my dream too, and I wish it can be realised in my lifetime.”
Her other priority, she said, was to continue to advocate “for an expanded space for women in Africa to access better opportunities in economic, political and social spheres. I will work with others to protect the rights of children, fight for an end to child marriage, ensure we continue to make progress on child survival and development, as well as promote the attainment of quality education for all children”.
Machel said she had been deeply touched and comforted by the affection shown towards her and her family through Mandela’s illness, his death and their bereavement.
“I would like to thank our family, friends, and the people throughout the world who gave me love and support during these difficult times.”
The Mandela foundation added that while Machel had officially come out of mourning, she continued to grieve the passing of Mandela “and will issue no further statements or accept interviews with regard to her private and family life”.