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Press release

  1. 1. Former Miss Universe and UN Goodwill Ambassador Aimsto Empower the Next Generation of African Female Leaders NEW YORK, September. 25, 2012—Former Miss Universe and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, Mpule Kwelagobe, today announced a new initiative to mobilize the next generation of African female leaders aged 35 and under. She unveiled the commitment called “In Women’s Hands: Empowering the Next Generation of African Female Leaders” during the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City. Mpule, now CEO of the MPULE Institute for Endogenous Development, a New York-based advocacy and public policy think tank, will spearhead the launch of the Network of Women Investing in Africa (NEW Africa) Leadership Program to engage and empower female change agents recognized for their commitment to championing social issues and creating innovative solutions to address pressing development challenges facing Africa that span agriculture, water, health, education, energy, technology and infrastructure.“Research confirms that women reinvest majority of their incomes in their children and families, and thatputting assets and incomes in women’s hands leads to higher investment in health, nutrition, educationand human development. Empowering women is the best way to ensure inclusive and sustainabledevelopment in Africa,” Mpule cited as the need behind initiatives such as the NEW Africa LeadershipProgram. “My firm conviction in the power of investing in women stems from personal experience,” sheadded.In 1999, at the age of 19, Mpule Kwelagobe made history as the first delegate to represent Botswana atthe Miss Universe pageant, and she won! She became the first black African woman to win aninternational pageant. With the support of two accomplished women in her country—Linah Mohohlo, theGovernor of the Bank of Botswana and Joy Phumaphi, then Minister of Health for Botswana—sheestablished her own health foundation to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in Botswana. Nelson Mandela wasthe guest of honor and keynote speaker at the launching of the MPULE Foundation.In 2000, Mpule was appointed as the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Youth and HIV/AIDS bythe UN’s Population Fund, UNFPA. She addressed members of the United States Congress, participatedin policy forums in Washington DC, lobbied European donor governments on behalf of the UN, andspoke on panels at global development forums including at the World Summit on SustainableDevelopment. In 2003, the World Economic Forum selected Mpule as a Global Leader for Tomorrow.Recognizing her potential to be a change agent, the Government of Botswana awarded her a scholarship
  2. 2. to attend Columbia University in the City of New York. She graduated from the Ivy League institution in2006 with a degree in International Political Economy.Mpule readily admits she’s fortunate to have benefitted from investment and capacity building fromdiverse stakeholders who, she says, believed in her potential to effect positive change. She maintains thatthere are many other equally capable and dynamic young African women, with demonstrated potential totransform their communities and countries, who can benefit from multi-stakeholder capacity-buildingprovided by the NEW Africa Leadership Program. It is a bold undertaking, but one also desperatelyneeded considering that poverty remains gendered in Africa. Despite their contributions, African womenearn 10% of incomes and own just 1% of assets across the continent.With 3 years remaining on the Millennium Development Goals, the NEW Africa Leadership Programwill serve as an advocacy and public policy campaign to hold African governments, donors, multilateralinstitutions and other stakeholders accountable to promises made to advance gender equality andwomen’s empowerment in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The key focus of thecampaign will be Millennium Development Goal 3 (MDG3) on gender equality, which has been provento have multiplier effects that lead to achievement of the other MDGs.“It is time to deliver on partnerships and programs that promote a rights-based approach to women’sempowerment,” Mpule stresses. “Promoting gender equality, and ending violence and discriminationagainst women is essential to poverty eradication, economic growth and human development in Africa.The NEW Africa Leadership Program seeks to strengthen young women’s voices to increase theirparticipation in the development of their countries. We call upon all stakeholders to partner with us inunlocking the tremendous potential for economic growth and development that lies in African women’shands.”About the MPULE Institute for Endogenous DevelopmentThe MPULE Institute for Endogenous Development is a New York City-based advocacy and publicpolicy think tank that champions agriculture-led development, pro-poor inclusive green growth, genderequality and women’s empowerment, and sustainable development pathways in Africa. The MPULEInstitute builds upon 12 years of experience convening and partnering with multi-stakeholders toempower women and youth to design multisectoral approaches and innovative solutions to critical socialissues.Follow the MPULE the MPULE FoundationSince 1999, the Botswana-based MPULE Foundation has partnered with nearly 20 multi-stakeholdersincluding the Government of Botswana, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Harvard AIDSInstitute, African Youth Alliance (AYA), Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC), Bristol MyersSquibb’s Secure the Future AIDS Foundation, Botswana Council of Churches (BCC), Botswana Family
  3. 3. Welfare Association (BOFWA), Botswana Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (BONEPWA),Coping Center of People Living with HIV/AIDS (COCEPWA), Youth Health Organization (YOHO) andthe Botswana Council of Women (BCW) to launch health and empowerment programs in two dozenurban and rural areas across Botswana. In 2001 the Mpule Kwelagobe and the MPULE Foundationreceived the Jonathan Mann Human Health Rights Award from the International Association ofPhysicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC). Today the MPULE Foundation serves as patron for the MpuleKwelagobe Children’s Center established by Debswana Diamond Company and the Government ofBotswana.About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leadersto create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI AnnualMeetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds ofleading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. Todate CGI members have made more than 2,100 commitments, which are already improving the lives ofnearly 400 million people in more than 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, thesecommitments will be valued at $69.2 billion.CGI also convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery inthe United States, and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduatestudents to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. For more information,visit and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook