Uganda’s Winnie Byanyima is the New UNAIDS Executive Director

Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, ushered in former Oxfam International Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, into UNAIDS as the new UNAIDS Executive Director. Antonio Guterres Spokesperson announced this in a statement. Winnie Byanyima served at Oxfam since her appointment in January 2013. The Chair of Oxfam Board of Supervisors, Dr. Henrietta Campbell, thanked Ms. Byanyima for being a good leader during her six-year service period at the organization and wished her all the best in her next job.

“On behalf of the Oxfam International Secretariat and our global confederation, I thank our International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima for her leadership, energy and commitment to our mission in tackling poverty and inequality.”

“Whilst it is with much regret to us that Winnie is leaving Oxfam, we wish her every success in this new and highly prestigious role as UNAIDS Executive Director.”

The sixty-year-old Ugandan diplomat has held a number of positions related to African Union governance. She worked on a women’s rights project to help cut down the excessive effect of HIV on the lives of African women for the African Union Commission. She also served as director of gender and development at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for seven years before joining Oxfam. Through her leadership in several coalitions of civil society organizations, she has prompted the international agenda at the United Nations.

While announcing Ms. Byanyima’s appointment, Antonio Guterres expressed the significance of her appointment.

“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.”

Winnie Byanyima, on the other hand, expressed her joy in the appointment and her willingness to direct all her efforts towards serving the UNAIDS in a tweet.

“An honour 2 be asked 2 lead the UN & global  HIV response! I embrace the role with humility, passion & faith that we can end this pandemic by 2030. I look fwd to joining  @UNAIDS team & working closely with co-sponsors & partners 2  remove barriers to prevention, treatment & care.”

“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.”

Winnie Byanyima takes over the job from Michel Sidibe from Mali after serving the UNAIDS for ten years. The former UNAIDS Executive Director had to call it quits in May 2019 following allegations of severe mismanagement. Creating “a patriarchal culture tolerating harassment and abuse of authority” is among the accusations. According to a report by an Independent Expert Panel (IEP), commissioned by the UNAIDS governing body, the agency culture under Michel Sidibe also did not stand by the United Nations laws and values. After resigning from UNAIDS, Sidibe became the Minister for Health in Mali.

With her thirty years of experience in diplomacy, the political leadership (she was formerly a member of parliament in Uganda) and humanitarian engagement, many are certain that Winnie Byanyima will serve her role at UNAIDS well.