The NGO Delegation to the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) welcomes Dr. Winnie Byanyima as the new Executive Director of UNAIDS. As community activists and human rights defenders, we celebrate the opportunity to partner with a leader who brings on board a history in sustainable development leadership and a lifetime advocacy for human rights and gender equity.As the world faces the challenge of achieving gender justice and equity, having Dr. Byanyima as the first woman to hold the post of UNAIDS Executive Director is groundbreaking. She is also the first Ugandan woman to have earned a degree in aeronautical engineering. We hope these ‘firsts’ will lead to a few more and that she can be an example for generations in the present and the future.
AIDS IS NOT OVER. The 2019 Global AIDS Update, Communities at the Center, notes that key populations and their sexual partners now account for more than half (54%) of new HIV infections globally. In 2018, around 1.7 million people became newly infected with HIV. While this presents a 16% decline overall since 2010, other regions such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia, have seen continued increases in HIV infections. In the same year, global resources for the AIDS response declined by nearly US$ 1 billion.
“During this critical time of shrinking resources, diminishing support for civil society engagement and challenging legal and political environments, UNAIDS needs ‘on the ground’ real-world experience. We call upon Dr. Byanyima to bring that to the organisation,” said Lucy Wanjiku Njenga, NGO Delegate from Africa.
The NGO Delegation stands ready to partner with Dr. Byanyima to bring the issues key to people living with HIV, sex workers, people who use drugs,gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, transgender people, mobile persons, women and girls, and young people, to the forefront of the global HIV agenda. We need all communities, together with government leaders, donors, and UN agencies to work with Dr Byanyima to craft an agenda and chart a course for the long road ahead of us to end AIDS by 2030.
“We hope that as UNAIDS Exective Director, addressing HIV stigma & discrimination, HIV criminalization, and implementing human-rights based approaches at UNAIDS, will be among her first priorities,” added Alessandra Nilo, NGO Delegate from Latin America and the Caribbean. The NGO Delegation is looking forward to working with Dr. Byanyima to make certain that under her leadership, transgender people, sex workers, gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, mobile populations, and young people will get the attention and dedication of the UNAIDS the world needs.
The NGO Delegation also urges Dr. Byanyima to work towards improving UNAIDS governance and management, as addressing critical organizational issues can positively impact on the Joint Programme’s future sustainability.
Welcome on board, Dr. Byanyima. Let’s continue this journey for human rights, social justice and for a healthy world, together.
*Cover photo courtesy of Dr. Byanyima's Twitter account