SOAS University of London

About SOAS

President of SOAS, Mrs Graça Machel

President of SOAS, Mrs Graça Machel
President of SOAS, Mrs Graça Machel

Graça Machel is a renowned international advocate for women and children's rights and has been a social and political activist for many decades.

As Minister of Education and Culture in Mozambique (1975-1989), she led an inclusive movement which increased the primary school enrolment from 40 per cent of children in 1975, to just over 90 per cent of boys and 75 per cent of girls by 1989.

She is one of the founders of the Forum of African Women Educationalists (FAWE), an advocacy network which has been a reference in the promotion of girls' education and empowerment in Africa.

She is currently Chancellor of the University of Cape Town.

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Dame Graça Machel giving the President's Welcome at SOAS Graduation 2014


In 1994, the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed her as an independent expert to carry out an assessment of the impact of armed conflict on children. Her groundbreaking report was presented in 1996 and established a comprehensive global agenda for the protection of children's rights in conflict situations.

She was Chair of the GAVI Alliance for almost a decade and has served as an Eminent Person of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

She is the Founder and President of the Foundation for Community Development (FDC) in Mozambique, a grant-making organisation, a builder of civil society and a promoter of development based on communities.

She was President of National Organization of Children of Mozambique for two decades, the largest children's organisation in Mozambique.

More recently, she founded the Institute for Child Development (Zizile IDC) to focus on early childhood development.

She is a co-founder of the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS) and founded the Graça Machel Trust (GMT), an organisation that advocates for the rights of women and children on the continent, as well as good governance and democracy.

Graça Machel serves in various capacities in several organisations.  These include, the Elders, the Africa Progress Panel, the High Level Task Force on Innovative International Finance for Health Systems, and the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Advocates Panel, among others. She is also an Eminent Person of the GAVI Alliance and the UN Foundation.

She is Chair of the Leadership Council for the Campaign to End Paediatric HIV/AIDS (CEPA).

She is Chair of the Board of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD).

Over the years, Mrs. Machel has gained international recognition for her achievements. Her awards include the Laureate of Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger from the Hunger Project in 1992, the Nansen Medal in recognition of her contribution to the welfare of refugee children in 1995, the Global Citizen Award of the New England Circle in 1997, the Inter Press Service's (IPS) International Achievement Award for her work on behalf of children internationally, the Africare Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award and the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe.