Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Week 105 (3 - 9 October 2015)

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women, this week showed how aligned the United Nations is with the Olympic Movement's new direction under Olympic Agenda 2020, with the announcement that the IOC is providing her organisation with $600,000 to support a project which helps young women improve their ability to influence decisions that impact their lives.

The project is called "One Win Leads to Another" and will use a series of sports programmes to build 2,500 young women's leadership skills in Rio de Janeiro State.

The project is the latest example of concrete collaboration between the IOC and the UN to promote peace through sport. It is being delivered in partnership with the National Olympic Committee of Brazil, making it part of Rio 2016's legacy scope.

Mlambo-Ngcuka, who is the former deputy President of South Africa, has been the driving force in getting the project off the ground, holding meetings with IOC President Bach dating back to April this year. And Bach was even made an ambassador by UN Women for its HeForShe campaign for gender equality.

Whilst the "One Win Leads to Another" concept is highly commendable, Mlambo-Ngcuka would still have needed to back that up with a persuasive and compelling pitch for IOC support. But at the launch this week it was clear why the IOC decided to support the project. Mlambo-Ngcuka speaks the IOC's language and can succinctly summarise her project and its aims.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said this week:

"Through sport, girls and women build skill, strength, unity and determination. These are powerful assets for life; sport helps build their social, economic and political empowerment beyond the arena. We value our strong partnership with the IOC and look forward with them to making a difference in the lives of young women and girls."

Mlambo-Ngcuka's is not only passionate about the cause she is championing, she also has the crucial skill to convey that passion in plain terms in a public or one-to-one environment.

The IOC meanwhile can feel pleased that Olympic Agenda 2020's reinforcement of the importance of legacy initiatives around an Olympic Games is being received loud and clear and, what's more, is stimulating projects which make a real difference to people's lives.

Photo: Wikipedia