At a high-level event held on the margins of the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States of America, the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) met with partners from the private sector, civil society and multilateral organizations to discuss how to improve access to sexual and reproductive health services and rights for young women and adolescent girls.
Speaking at the event, First Lady of Ghana, President of the Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS, Nana Lordina Dramani Mahama said that “Until recently young women and girls were hardly at the centre of discussion. This new focus will bring a much needed boost—we must prepare and pave the way for our girls.”
aFirst ladies from some 20 African countries took part in the session, during which participants reiterated their support for the 2016 Political Declaration on Ending AIDS, which includes commitments to gender equality and reducing the disproportionate impact of the HIV epidemic among young women and adolescent girls.
The first ladies heard from 14-year-old Hawaya from Chad, who at the age of 10 was married and faced violence from her husband on a daily basis. She escaped and found support just as Chad declared a ban on child marriages.
During the event the President of Namibia, Hage Geingob, joined the proceedings in support of his wife and the agenda for young women and adolescent girls. The First Lady of Japan and Yoo Soon-taek, the wife of the United Nations Secretary-General, were also present.
The Vice-Chairman of the China–Africa Business Council, Zhang Huarong, announced a donation of US$ 100 000 for OAFLA and voiced ongoing support for the first ladies’ mission.
In his remarks, the UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, underlined the significant role played by the first ladies both at the national level and internationally, reiterating their transformative powers and UNAIDS’ commitment to continue supporting their work.