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Fresh from working on the VAX LIVE campaign where Global Citizen made a call to world leaders to prioritise vaccine equity, Nomzamo Mbatha is once again standing up for the world’s most vulnerable by helping to deliver 1 million vaccines to those who need them most. 

In a partnership with UNICEF and global retailer Cotton On, the South African actress is continuing to fight for vaccine equity, this time through raising funds for vaccines needed across the African continent and in other vulnerable areas. 

“I’m so very excited, so very honoured, and so very humbled to be a part of something this big and this impactful and that will truly touch the world’s most marginalised and vulnerable communities,” the actress said of the partnership, where she serves as an ambassador to the brand.

In a vibrant video announcing the initiative, she says, direct to the camera: "Vaccine equity is going to be a global morality test on how we, as a global community, have treated those who do not have the access to the resources that may not be available everywhere else,” she continues, “and I think that’s why for me, it’s so important that we continue to say that COVID is not over for anyone, until it is over for everyone.”

Cotton On plans to raise funds through the sale of their Cotton On Foundation products, where 100% of the profits will go towards funding the World Health Organisation-backed COVAX Facility. These products include tote bags, face masks and other accessories that have previously been sold to support several initiatives in line with the United Nations’ Global Goals, including building schools in Uganda and financing sustainable farming in Kenya. 

Mbatha previously partnered with the Cotton On Foundation in support of their education-based projects across Africa in 2020, and is working with them to secure vaccine doses for the African continent. The fund will prioritise delivering vaccines across Africa to those who are the highest at risk to COVID-19, such as healthcare workers and teachers.

On May 8 Mbatha joined the likes of Selena Gomez, Jenifer Lopez and the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, on the Global Citizen VAX LIVE stage to highlight the need for vaccines for everyone, everywhere. 

In her moving speech that day, the actress outlined the realities that the African continent faces in comparison to the privileged global North. 

“For many, life and a return to the things we love is coming back, but across the African continent, only 1% of people have received a vaccine,” she said.

“Many in Africa might not get a vaccine until 2023. That’s two years from now. And it is simply unacceptable. The spirit is in us all to rally together and demand that no one, wherever they are born, is left behind,” she ended. 

The Cotton On Foundation’s initiative has already kicked off and will continue to raise funds for the COVAX Facility until July 4. The brand is the first global retailer to partner with UNICEF, with the UN agency stating that it is planning to support South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. 

“Children across South Africa have suffered greatly, as COVID-19 has impacted every step of their childhood, from disrupting education to child health services and exposure to violence and mental health issues, often behind closed doors,” stated Christine Muhigana, UNICEF South Africa Representative.

“Vaccines provide the hope that children, young people and all of us need to reimagine a safer, fairer and better future for every child,” she added. 

Cotton On Foundation products are available online and in stores. You can also make a direct donation to the cause through the Cotton On website. 

Mbatha rounded up her call for vaccines everywhere in a statement by saying: “It’s imperative that we protect those most in need so that children can continue schooling and community life can continue.”


Defeat Poverty

South Africa's Nomzamo Mbatha Steps Up in Fight Against COVID-19 to Help Deliver 1 Million Vaccines

By Khanyi Mlaba