Statement by First Lady Azeb Mesfin
Statement by First Lady Azeb Mesfin at OAFLA presidency handover ceremony, Addis Ababa, October 6, 2011.
Your Excellency Madam Penehupifo Pohamba, First Lady of the Republic of Namibia Excellencies, Ambassadors, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, On behalf of all our members and myself, I would like to welcome Her Excellency Madam Penehupifo Pohamba, OAFLA’s incoming president. Nine years ago, OAFLA began as an idea.
The First Ladies of Africa knew that the power of our collective voice would be strong. We knew that, together, we could make a difference for the people of Africa who were suffering from the impact of HIV/AIDS. Together, we have succeeded on a number of fronts. We now sit at the table with all the international organizations involved in the struggle against HIV/AIDS.
Just last summer, as president of OAFLA, I co-hosted a meeting organized by UNAIDS in New York. Over thirty First Ladies were there from all over the world.
The majority, however, were our own OAFLA members. We were front and center of this event to affirm out commitment to UNAIDS’s vision of zero new HIV infections of children by 2015.
This commitment has been a priority area for OAFLA. Our Motto, “Let No Child Be Born With the HIV Virus.” We have come a long way since OAFLA was an idea.
OAFLA’s decision to establish a permanent secretariat in Addis Ababa was a milestone in our organization.
We now have a physical presence alongside the African Union and the headquarters of many UN organizations.
With the establishment of the permanent secretariat, we were able to focus more of our attention on mobilizing resources for our work.
This year, we were able to raise almost one million dollars in funds.
UNAIDS has donated $ 300,000 to OAFLA.
The government of France, through UNAIDS, is donating a total of $600,000 for PMTCT. The French have identified 10 OAFLA member countries to receive grants of $60,000 each.
UNFPA has donated $ 41,400 to the OAFLA secretariat.
Our partners recognize the important role OAFLA plays in advocating on behalf of the women and children of Africa infected and affected by HIV virus.
We are the voice of Africa’s most vulnerable. This generation of the African Ladies has shown our people and people everywhere that we have raised ourselves beyond the traditionally ceremonial role First Lady into who we really are a group of professional women who, in our own right, can use our position to join in the struggle to promote peace, good governance, development, and the empowerment of women on our continent and in every remote part of the world.
We have earned the trust of our partners.
Our partners also recognize that OAFLA as an institution has put in place the systems to maintain financial accountability and transparency.
Our partners realize that OAFLA understands that the underlying causes of HIV/AIDS in Africa must be addressed.
Our new strategic plan reflects this broader agenda and we are now focusing on some of the root causes of HIV in Africa-poverty and gender inequality.
Excellencies and guests,
It has been 30 years since the world began fighting against HIV/AIDS.
We, as global community, have learned many lessons.
One lesson stands out for the First Ladies of Africa.
Empowering women is the key to fighting HIV/AIDS.
Empowering women drives them to health centers to get tested for the virus and receive PMTCT services if they are HIV positive.
Empowering women gives them the knowledge and the strength to protect themselves from getting the HIV virus.
Empowering women gives them opportunities to earn more money and sent their children to school.
We, the First Ladies of Africa, will continue our struggle to empower African women.
At this handover ceremony, we will welcome OAFLA’s new president Her Excellency Madam Penehupifo Pohamba, the First Lady of the Republic of Namibia.
Our new president will represent OAFLA for the next two years representing our collective voice to the world’s struggle against HIV/AIDS.
I would like to thank OAFLA for giving me the opportunity to serve as president. It has been an honor and privilege.
I would like to thank UNAIDS, UNFPA and the government of France for their generous support to OAFLA.
I will continue to serve OAFLA as the host country member for the secretariat and look forward to working with our new president Her Excellency Madam Penehupifo Pohamba, the First Lady of the Republic of Namibia.
Last Updated ( Monday, 10 October 2011 )
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