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Message of Dr. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, on the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, 18 July 2018

18 July 2018

 

“You can start changing our world for the better daily, no matter how small the action.”  — President Nelson Mandela 

Today, on Nelson Mandela International Day, I hope that his legacy of equality and dignity will continue to inspire the world community, and will serve to guide future generations in the quest for social justice.

I had the privilege of meeting him just a year after his farewell speech to South Africa's Parliament. As President, he had invited all South Africans, regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation or economic status, to join the nation’s journey towards reconciliation and shared prosperity.

Madiba taught us many lessons about how important it is to build societies where everyone has a voice and where each one of us can contribute something to improve our communities, nations and our world. These are universal lessons that will be just as relevant tomorrow as they are today.

On this 100th anniversary of President Mandela’s birth, let us remind ourselves of how he transformed a country and inspired the world — and showed us by example that no worthy goal is beyond our reach.