Mlambo-Ngcuka honoured at Cannes

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The United Nations (UN) Undersecretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, has been named the recipient of the 2019 Cannes LionHeart award.

The former South African Deputy President has been awarded the 2019 Cannes LionHeart in recognition of her advocacy for women, human rights and social justice throughout the world, and for her leadership of the industrywide diversity initiative, The Unstereotype Alliance.

Convened by UN Women, The Unstereotype Alliance 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.

Since its launch in 2017, the initiative has worked with members to conduct international research projects providing applicable insights for creating progressive portrayals of men and women from around the world.

In a press statement, Cannes Lions chairperson, Philip Thomas, said throughout her career, Mlambo-Ngcuka has championed women’s rights through her involvement with projects and programmes devoted to education, women’s empowerment and gender equality.

In 2018, she 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.

Thomas said Mlambo-Ngcuka’s leadership of The Unstereotype Alliance recognises the power of partnerships to accelerate progress, and her involvement has been pivotal to creating a space where industry leaders can set aside competition and unite for a common cause.

Uniting leaders to tackle stereotypes


As the powerhouse behind The Unstereotype Alliance initiative, Thomas said Mlambo-Ngcuka unites leaders to tackle the widespread prevalence of stereotypes that are often perpetuated through media and advertising content.

“Mlambo-Ngcuka’s passion and tireless work to improve the lives of women and children around the world and bring about social justice, represents the true embodiment of the Cannes LionHeart Award. Through her work on The Unstereotype Alliance she has brought together leaders from business, technology and creative industries to consciously consider how individuals are in communications,” Thomas said.

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.

As an Executive Director of UN Women, Mlambo-Ngcuka is driving the role of women in leadership, engaging men as allies, and ending discrimination and violence against women and girls through coalition and movement building among global leaders in public and private sectors, and with civil society.

Speaking in response to the announcement, Mlambo-Ngcuka said it was an honour to be nominated for the 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.

Mlambo-Ngcuka will be interviewed on the Debussy stage at 5pm on Friday 21 June as the final session of the content programme. She will accept the LionHeart Award at the final awards show closing out Cannes Lions 2019. –