Four success stories: Four empowering examples

Influential and active female figures who have been profoundly involved and dedicated to gender equality and female empowerment.

Irina Bokova

Irina Bokova was Minister for Foreign Affairs, Coordinator of Bulgaria-European Union relations and Ambassador of Bulgaria to France, Monaco and UNESCO and Personal Representative of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to the "Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie" (OIF). Irina Bokova has been the Director-General of UNESCO since 15 November 2009, and reelected for a second term in 2013. She is the first woman to lead the Organization. Irina Bokova is strongly engaged in important issues related to access to education, gender equality, cultural diversity. She is also defending the freedom of speech and safety of journalists around the world.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. From 2005 to 2008, she was the first woman to serve as Deputy President in the history of South Africa. She also served as Minister of Minerals and Energy from 1999 to 2005 and Deputy Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry from 1996 to 1999. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka began her career as a teacher and gained international experience as a coordinator at the World YWCA in Geneva, where she established a global programme for young women. She is affiliated with several organizations devoted to education, women’s empowerment and gender equality.

Alek Wek

Alek Wek was born in Wau, South Sudan in 1977, and raised as a member of the Dinka tribe. She was initially forced to flee her hometown to escape the north-south civil war in 1987 and, at the age of 14, made her way to the United Kingdom from the Sudan capital, Khartoum. It was here that she was discovered at a funfair - she has since gone on to become one of the fashion world's most recognizable faces. Wek now lives in New York and balances a busy career both on and off the runway with her activism. She has spoken about refugees before the United States Congressional Black Caucus and served as an advisory board member for the US Committee for Refugees and Migrants. She is also involved in other humanitarian issues, including raising awareness about HIV/AIDS. In 2013 Alek Wek was appointed UNHCR National Goodwill Ambassador.

Christiane Amanpour

Christiane Amanpour is the newly appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists. She has been an international journalist for more than three decades. She is currently CNN’s chief international correspondents and the global affairs anchor for ABC News. One of her first tasks during her career as a journalist required her to cover the Gulf War and has since reported from major conflict hotspots. She has also interviewed many of the world's top leaders. Amanpour is known for her fearlessness and uncompromised approach and has received the most important and major journalistic awards. In addition to her journalistic career, Amanpour is an active rights campaigner and a champion and defender of gender equality in and through Media. She is also a  board  member  of  the  Committee  to  Protect  Journalists,  the  Centre  for  Public  Integrity  and  the International Women's Media Foundation.

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