Oxfam’s Winnie Byanyima to leave for UNAIDS

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Oxfam’s Winnie Byanyima to leave for UNAIDS

Winnie Byanyima, will leave Oxfam International, to take up the role of Executive Director of UNAIDS.

The United Nations has confirmed the appointed of Oxfam International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima, as the new head of UNAIDS. Byanyima, who hails from Uganda takes over from Mali’s Michel Sidibe, who stepped down early this year, after 10 years in the role.

According to the UN, during Sidibe’s tenure, there has been a 170% increase in the number of people accessing antiretroviral therapy – from 8 million in 2010 to 21.7 million in 2017. There has also been a 45% drop in AIDS-related deaths—from 1.7 million in 2008 to 940 000 in 2017—and new HIV infections have been reduced by 22%—from 2.3 million in 2008 to 1.8 million in 2017.

He has since been appointed his country’s health minister.

Byanyima has been the Executive Director of Oxfam International since 2013. Prior to that, she served for seven years as the Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Programme.

She began her career as a champion of marginalized communities and women 30 years ago as a member of parliament in the National Assembly of Uganda. In 2004, she became the 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 that became an important tool for reducing the disproportionate effect of HIV on the lives of women in Africa.

She holds an advanced degree in mechanical engineering (in energy conservation and the environment) from the Cranfield Institute of Technology and an undergraduate degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Manchester.

“I am honoured to be joining UNAIDS as the Executive Director at such a critical time in the response to HIV,” said Byanyima. “The end of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 is a goal that is within the world’s reach, but I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead. Working with all its partners, UNAIDS must continue to speak up for the people left behind and champion human rights as the only way to end the epidemic.”  

During their high profile positions at their respective former organisations, both Oxfam International and UNAIDS were embroiled in sex misconduct and harassment scandal allegations.


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Written by Regina Jane Jere

reGina Jane Jere is a Zambian-born London-based journalist and founding Editor of the New African Woman magazine the sister-publication of the New African magazine of which she was the Deputy Editor for over a decade. The mother of two juggles a wide-range of editorial and managerial duties, but she has particular passion on women’s health, education, rights and empowerment. She is also a former Zambian correspondent for Agence France Presse, and a former Africa Researcher at Index on Censorship. She writes extensively on a wide range of issues, from politics to women’s rights, media and free speech to beauty and fashion.

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