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UN Secretary General explains choice of Winnie Byanyima as UNAIDS Executive Director

Winnie Byanyima has been named UNAIDS Executive Director, after a meticulous process (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA/LONDON – The United Nations Secretary-General, Mr António Guterres, has explained that Ms Winnie Byanyima was appointed the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) because of her extensive experience and knowledge in dealing with matters related to HIV/AIDS.

Ms Byanyima, who is the wife of Uganda’s opposition lynchpin Dr Kizza Besigye, on Wednesday announced that she was leaving her job at Oxfam International, a British charity, to take over the UNAIDS job.

And later on Wednesday evening, Mr Gutierrez explained that the choice of Ms Byanyima followed a lengthy process.

“The appointment follows an open and wide-ranging search process. Led by the Co-sponsoring Organizations and chaired by Dr. Natalia Kanem, the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the process included interviews and consultations with Governments and other concerned parties through the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board,” he said in a statement.

Mr Gutierrez added that Ms Byanyima brings a wealth of experience and commitment in harnessing the power of government, multilateral agencies, the private sector and civil society to end the HIV and AIDS crisis for communities around the world.

“Ms. Byanyima has been the Executive Director of Oxfam International since 2013. Prior to Oxfam, she served for seven years as the Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),” he said.

“Ms. Byanyima began her career as a champion of marginalized communities and women some 30 years ago as a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Uganda. In 2004, she was named Director of Women and Development at the African Union Commission, working on the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, an international human rights instrument which became an important tool towards reducing the disproportionate effect of the HIV pandemic on the lives of women in Africa,” he added.

Ms. Byanyima succeeds Michel Sidibé who was appointed as Minister of Health and Social Affairs of Mali.

“The Secretary-General is grateful for Dr. Sidibé’s leadership of UNAIDS from 2009 to 2019 at the forefront of the global response to HIV and AIDS,” Mr Gutierrez explained.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

The UN Secretary-General also explained that Ms Byanyima’s Academic qualifications played a factor.

“She holds an advanced degree in Mechanical Engineering (Energy Conservation and Environment) from the Cranfield Institute of Technology, and an undergraduate degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Manchester. She speaks English, Kiswahili and some French,” he added.

Ms. Byanyima is married with one son.

“The Secretary-General wishes to extend his appreciation and gratitude to the UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director of Management and Governance, Gunilla Carlsson of Sweden, for her service as Executive Director ad interim.”

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