At its 446th birthday, Leiden University (Netherlands) will honour a great fighter for justice and self-determination.
Graça Machel, born in 1945 in Gaza Province, Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique today), speaks to many people’s imaginations. From 1973, after studying German in Lisbon, she became a teacher and joined the Mozambican struggle for independence. After liberation in 1975, Machel, a member of Frelimo, was appointed Minister of Education and Culture. In that same year she married former freedom fighter and the country’s first democratic president Samora Machel. He died in 1986 in a plane crash at the border of South Africa. Circumstances under which the crash happened are still under investigation; involvement of the former white minority regime is suspected.
Ms Machel received the 1995 Nansen Medal from the United Nations in recognition of her longstanding humanitarian work, particularly on behalf of refugee children. She is the founder of the Graça Machel Trust and a member of The Elders, an independent group of world leaders who work together for peace and human rights. She was co-founder of this group, together with Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. She is also an independent expert for the UN on the impact of armed conflicts on children and an international champion of women's and children's rights.
In 1998, Ms. Machel married South African president Nelson Mandela.
The Honorary Doctorate will be conferred to Ms Machel on 8 February, 2021. You can attend the livestream of the ceremony | Monday 8 February 2021, 15h00