Graça Machel
**FILE** Graça Machel (Wikimedia Commons)

Graça Machel, one of the world’s leading advocates for women’s and children’s rights who for decades has fought for social and economic justice on the continent of Africa and beyond, will receive a “Diamonds Do Good” Award from the Diamond Empowerment Fund on June 4.

After establishing the Graça Machel Trust in 2010 as a Pan-African advocacy organization that focuses on child health and nutrition, education, women’s economic empowerment, leadership and good governance, Machel began a campaign to ensure that the voices of women would be heard in the media. Machel’s “Women in Media Network” (WIMN) is comprised of 34 experienced journalists from 15 countries across Africa who focus on challenging the current misperceptions about Africa’s women and children and how they’re portrayed in the press.

Machel plans to use WIMN to drive coordinated messaging and build awareness on issues related to women and children.

“The National Newspaper Publishers Association recognizes and salutes the transformative effectiveness of the Graça Machel Trust across the entire continent of Africa,” said NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.

Machel also served as the first lady to two African nations; in Mozambique as the wife of President Samora Machel from November 1975 to October 1986 and in South Africa as President Nelson Mandela’s wife from July 1998 to June 1999, when Mandela left office.

During a visit with Mandela and Machel at their home in Mozambique in 2006, Chavis and music mogul Russell Simmons came up with the idea of establishing a global nonprofit to focus on the good that the diamond industry does throughout the world, particularly in Africa. The Diamond Empowerment Fund (DEF) was established in 2007.

Chavis and Simmons plan to be on hand at the Four Seasons Ballroom in Las Vegas, Nev., to present the award to Machel in front of a crowd of leaders from the international jewelry industry, government officials, and celebrities.

“My longstanding colleague and business associate Russell Simmons and I will be honored to present Graça Machel the Diamonds Do Good Global Humanitarian Award,” Chavis said. “More than any other freedom fighting leader in Africa today, Graça Machel, the widow of Nelson Mandela, is performing a tremendous task of empowering the women of Africa to take their rightful place as accomplished leaders in business, economics and government.”

Machel is also the co-founder of The Elders, an organization she developed alongside Mandela that includes Kofi Annan, former President Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu and other independent global leaders who are working toward peace and human rights.

Now, through her Graça Machel Trust, the South African heroine has worked to transform the narrative of African women and children.

“The Graça Machel Trust’s women’s rights program is based on our aim to multiply the faces and amplify the voices of women, especially in areas where they are underrepresented,” said Machel in an earlier interview with the NNPA Newswire. “Through our women’s networks in agribusiness, finance and ‘Women Creating Wealth,’ we foster links and build a critical mass of highly-qualified and active women across sectors and professions, who can work collectively to influence, shape and drive the socio-economic policies to ensure that they achieve economic prosperity and social change.”

Machel is also the founder of the Foundation for Community Development in Mozambique and an independent expert on the impact of armed conflict on children for the United Nation.

Machel, Simmons and Chavis have each been vocal about the movement to transform Africa, supporting those who work for freedom and equality on the continent.

Acclaimed actor David Oyelowo will also receive one of the Diamonds Do Good Awards. Oyelowo, who portrayed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the movie, “Selma,” currently has the leading role in the movie, “A United Kingdom.” He will receive the International Vanguard Award for his visionary advocacy and leadership in the arts to support education and empowerment.

In a statement about the awards ceremony, Diamond Empowerment Fund President Anna Martin said that the group was, “pleased to pay tribute to these esteemed honorees and to show that doing good is good business.”

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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