Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka receives prestigious 2019 Cannes LionHeart award

Former South African deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, currently the United Nations under-secretary-general and executive director of UN Women, has been named the recipient of the 2019 Cannes LionHeart award, UN Women said in a statement on Monday. 

Mlambo-Ngcuka served as deputy president from 2005 to 2008 under president Thabo Mbeki.

Introduced in 2014, the Cannes LionHeart is an honorary award presented to a person or organisation that has “harnessed their position to make a significant and positive difference to the world around us, with particular reference to those who work with brands and the advertising community”, said the statement.

The reward was in recognition of Mlambo-Ngcuka’s advocacy for women, human rights and social justice throughout the world, and for her leadership of the industry-wide diversity initiative, The Unstereotype Alliance.

“Throughout her career, Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka has championed women’s rights through her involvement with projects and programmes devoted to education, women’s empowerment and gender equality and in 2018 was named by Apolitical as one of the most influential people in gender policy around the world. Her work spans the private sector, civil society and government,” said the statement.

Mlambo-Ngcuka’s leadership of the Unstereotype Alliance recognised the power of partnerships to accelerate progress and her involvement had been pivotal to creating a space where industry leaders could set aside competition and unite for a common cause.

“As the powerhouse behind the initiative, which launched in 2017, she unites leaders to tackle the widespread prevalence of stereotypes that are often perpetuated through media and advertising content,” said the statement.

“It is an honour to be nominated for this Award on behalf of UN Women and The Unstereotype Alliance. I look forward to what we will do next through this partnership to change the way the world looks at itself and disrupt the social norms that are holding us back. We are thrilled to be working with the advertising community to bring about positive change by influencing the way that both women and men are represented,” Mlambo-Ngcuka said.

The Unstereotype Alliance, convened by UN Women, is a collaboration between industry leaders who have been champions of addressing gender bias. Its members include global brands, advertising agencies and holding companies, associations and organisations dedicated to advancing representation.

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