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5 Famous Politicians Who Became Humanitarians

Many people go into politics to change the world. Those who do it for a better future tend to have a humanitarian outlook on life. They want to make positive changes so that people may have better lives. So, after their time in office, these politicians often become humanitarian aid workers or supporters. After all, humanitarianism and politics are often interconnected. While humanitarians practice the principles of independence and neutrality, they do need to advocate for humanitarian causes. Advocacy is a crucial part of humanitarian work, which advances the quality of life for those who need it most.

So, the politicians who later go on to become humanitarians bring quite a lot of valuable expertise. Not only do they know the ins and outs of political decision-making, but they also carry over their networks. They can aid humanitarian organizations in tapping into the right channels for advocacy and fundraising.

Here are five famous politicians who became humanitarians after their political career.


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1. Al Gore

During the Clinton administration, Al Gore served as Vice President of the United States. Later, he ran for President against George Bush, mainly utilizing climate change as his political platform. After losing, he turned to humanitarianism and advocacy to create meaningful positive change in the world. He is one of the foremost campaigners to disseminate information on the climate change, Al Gore and the International Panel on Climate Change received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.

Al Gore focuses on two crucial issues – climate change and poverty. He wrote and presented the award-winning document “An Inconvenient Truth,” which put climate change at the forefront of public concern. To date, he actively advocates for climate change and poverty reduction through various political and non-political platforms.

2. Michelle Obama

While not directly a politician, Michelle Obama is the former First Lady of the United States. She is married to Barack Obama, who served as the 44th President. Since 2017, when her husband’s presidency ended, Michelle Obama has continued to work on humanitarian issues for the well-being of society actively.

Her main areas of concern include education and women’s rights. She advocates for more active participation and better spaces for women in technology. She also runs several initiatives targeting better and more accessible education for all.

3. Nelson Mandela

You have probably heard of Nelson Mandela, the famous peaceful revolutionary of South Africa. He was the President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, bring an end to the brutal regime of apartheid. After his retirement from politics, he continued to engage in philanthropic and humanitarian action actively.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation, which opened its doors in 1999, focuses on rural development, school construction, and the fight against the HIV/Aids pandemic. Mandela left this legacy after his passing in 2013.

On July 18, every year, we celebrate Nelson Mandela’s birthday! Today, we know this date as Mandela Day.

4. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Another essential South African politician is Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. After leaving her political career, Mlambo-Ngcuka has held several positions in the humanitarian sector. Today, she is the Executive Director of UN Women – the branch of the United Nations that fights for gender equality.

Through UN Women, Mlambo-Ngcuka is advancing the gender equality agenda across the world. Her focus is on reducing gender-based violence and ensuring that girls have access to the same opportunities as boys.

5. Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton served as the 42nd President of the United States, between 1993 and 2001. After leaving office, Clinton founded the Clinton Foundation. The organization works on a global scale and primarily addresses issues related to economic opportunities and public health.

The Foundation has a wide range of projects and partners. Some of them directly impact populations in need, such as helping farmers in Africa, providing public health services, or deploying disaster relief. Also, the organization works on advocacy, civic engagement, and the promotion of democratic values.

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