Delivered by Lucy Wanjiku Njenga, Africa NGO Delegate
I speak this time not on behalf of the entire Delegation, but in my individual capacity as a Delegate and as a representative of positive young women from Africa.
I appreciate the women who have gone before to make most things possible for me and most girls. In 1862, Mary Peterson was the first black woman to graduate from college, Shirley Chishlom was the first woman to run for presidency in 1972, Wangari Maathai was the first woman and Kenyan to win a Nobel Peace Prize.
Now as we look forward to UNAIDS having a new Executive Director, we are ecstatic about the qualities and expertise the candidates bring to the position, recognizing that four out of five are Africans.
Then, like a dream come true, there is a powerful woman on the list from East Africa, my community and it warms my heart. My community supports her as the next Executive Director. She has a proven track record of democratic governance and peace building having served in the African Union Commission, at UNDP and as a member of the Ugandan Parliament. Serving in these roles, she never walked alone bringing the voices, views and platforms of diverse communities as well as being vocal on human rights and gender equality.
She has shown bold leadership and commitment to handle the difficult issues that have brought so many great leaders and organisations down. This resilience, dedication, openness and skill is key for me and the communities I represent. I commend her for taking the challenges facing Oxfam head on, digging deep and extensively to the bottom of the issues. I know she will be brilliant in implementing the monumental task of supporting staff during through transitions, reasserting its values and win back the respect and credibility the UNAIDS need. We have had the scientific side of the response for the last 30 years and we still see huge gaps especially with adolescent girls and young women high rise in new infections.
She is the candidate of choice for so many girls and young women in Africa. She has the piece we’ve not yet had - bold leadership for, and the skill set to transform the landscape for AIDS -a passionate and lifelong commitment to gender equality and human-rights based approaches necessary to beat AIDS. Moreso, her lived experience and professional skills can change the game, not only in Africa, but globally, with a fully funded UNAIDS. I would also like to reinforce she is not an outsider and has been personally affected by AIDS. She is Winnie Byanyima and having her there, many communities around the world will have a new dream, to one day be the leader she is. I look forward to supporting Winnie’s success as the First Black African Woman as the UNAIDS Executive Director to take us through this last mile and leave no one behind.
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