Posted by: africanpressorganization | 2 February 2011

16th AU Summit / OAFLA meeting discusses ways to fight against HIV and AIDS and betterment of women’s lives





16th AU Summit / OAFLA meeting discusses ways to fight against HIV and AIDS and betterment of women’s lives



ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, February 2, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On Monday 31st January 2011 in Addis Ababa, the 16th Ordinary Session of the African First ladies was held at the African Union headquarters with the theme of ”Towards Greater Unity and Integration through Shared values” emphasizing on HIV/AIDS. 13 first ladies attended.


First ladies and representatives of first ladies of countries presented and showed briefly what they have been doing and plan on doing in the future in their countries, to minimize the number of women infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. The first ladies and representatives of first ladies raised issues like creation of credit funds, education, avoiding harmful cultural practices,  Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission, using health care providers, and use of radio, TV, billboards and HIV counseling and testing centers. They also discussed universal access to treatment using traditional leaders, and free anti natal and post natal checkups.


Speaking at the opening ceremony, Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of NEPAD said African Heads of State and Government adopted the program of NEPAD 10 years ago since it focuses on saving life and empowering women at the continental level to eradicate poverty for sustainable socio- economic growth and development. 75% of the African population lives in rural areas and is dependent on agriculture. He said these people face economic problems so focus on the rural areas is paramount. He added that Africa has 60-80% agricultural laborers who are women and they work for longer hours. Women, he said, are affected by lack of access to markets, climate change and raw material shortage. But, he added that women can contribute to the development of Africa since they are the backbone of the household. Dr Mayaki proposed to work with the first ladies individually.


Mrs. Ban Ki Moon, on behalf of the UN Secretary General stressed on the need for   strong commitment by the AU in the fight against HIV. HIV predominantly exists in the Sub-Saharan Africa and the region needs medicine, she said. She added that “we have to work to protect mothers and babies to reach the Millennium Development Goals”. She showed the importance of women’s empowerment and equality for the betterment of the society.


Dr. Sheila Sisulu Deputy Executive Director of WFP started by recalling that agriculture is the backbone of Africa’s  economy and that 80% of agricultural produce comes from women but these women have less than 5% access to credit, and less than 5% access to extension services. So whatever they produce they consume right away. She said the problem is that the women farmers are not organized within farmers associations. She also underlined the importance of education which will one way or another have an impact on the prevalence of HIV.


The Chairperson of OAFLA, Ethiopian First Lady Mrs Azeb Mesfin raised points like regional presence and membership fees. She stressed on the role played by the UNAIDS and other donor organizations. She added that the challenges of HIV will continue to be the main issues in the meeting.



African Union Commission (AUC)


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