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16/06/2015: Malawi First Lady voted OAFLA VP

Malawi First Lady Madamme Gertrude Mutharika was on June 14th, 2015 voted Vice President for Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV & AIDS (OAFLA at a meeting that took place at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.

She becomes second in command after First Lady Mrs. Lordina Dramani Mahama of Ghana to lead the 54-state organisation of first ladies which targets to eliminate AIDS through focus on fighting transmission of HIV to children and empowering women among other objectives.

The appointment coincides with the on-going 25th Summit of African Union which centres on empowering women towards the 2063 agenda.

In her speech to the press, Mutharika expressed gratitude for being entrusted with such a demanding position, saying it is in recognition to the efforts that Malawi is doing in fighting HIV and AIDS.

“This position is not about a person, it’s about Malawi so I hope all Malawians will be happy about this position. This position of vice president will encourage me to do more. And I hope it will encourage Malawians to do more so that we eradicate HIV by 2030.

“Locally in Malawi I would like to see the increase in the uptake of HIV testing and counselling. I would also want to see the increase in uptake of ART for adolescents and an increase in cervical cancer screening,” said Mutharika.

She however said that she would also like to fundraise for the fight against AIDS through several activities.

She also added that she would increase her efforts in promoting girl child education and a prerequisite to creating a safer, hygienic and well developed Malawi through Beautify Malawi initiatives.

“We say, now after managing the waste, what next? If the woman is not empowered; if the woman is not educated then we are not going anywhere. If we educate the girl child, it means we are educating the whole nation and if the whole nation is educated and that means they will be empowered. If the woman is empowered, she will be conscious of her environment.

Even in churches, it is women that beautify the churches. So the more girls and girls get educated, we are assured of Malawi becoming beautiful,” she added.

National Coordinator for Safe motherhood, Chimwemwe Chipungu said the appointment is a recognition that would promote safe motherhood as it is closely related to safe motherhood through prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV.

The elected leaders of OAFLA will be in power for two non-renewable years and has its headquarters in Ethiopia.

First Ladies of Africa in OAFLA have a mission to ‘advocate for effective policies and strategies towards the elimination of HIV and AIDS, reduction of maternal and child mortality and the empowerment of women and children, through strategic partnerships in the spirit of solidarity.’

Mana/jk/fwm