African First Ladies have renewed their commitment to improving the welfare of vulnerable communities on the continent.
They promised to leverage their unique position as First Ladies to realize the vision of a developed Africa with healthy and empowered children, youth and women.
The commitment was contained in a communiqué read by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta at the 23rd General Assembly of the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) that ended on Monday in Niamey, Niger.
“We are committed to safeguard and protect mothers, children and the youth of our continent,” read the closing communiqué of the 23rd OAFLAD General Assembly whose theme was ‘Collaborating to Transform Africa, Addressing the Needs of Vulnerable Populations’.
The First Ladies cited gender equality, women and youth empowerment as important areas of focus as they work to ensure achievement of sustainable socio-economic development in Africa in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5.
Recognizing that Africa Agenda 2063 aspires for a higher standard of living and wellbeing of all citizens including persons with disability, older persons and vulnerable children, the First Ladies committed to fully implement their new strategic plan for the years 2019 to 2023 that addresses the needs of vulnerable populations.
Other areas of focus for OAFLAD include combating non-communicable diseases such as stroke, cancer, diabetes, heart and chronic respiratory diseases that are emerging as leading causes of death in Africa.
Addressing the meeting, President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou recognized and commended First Lady Sika Bella Kaboré of Burkina Faso and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, the out going President and Vice President of OAFLAD respectively, for their astute leadership that saw the organization register significant achievements.
Other speakers included the incoming OAFLAD President and First Lady of Congo Antoinette Sassou Nguesso and host First Lady Aïssata Issoufou Mahamadou. Global Fund executive director Peter Sands and his UNAIDS counterpart Gunilla Carlsson also spoke and assured of their organizations’ continued support and strategic partnerships with OAFLAD in the fight against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta later joined her counterparts on a visit to the Safem Exhibition Centre, an international trade fair, in Niamey where they toured various stands that showcased handicrafts made by women. The exhibition is a women empowerment initiative by Niger’s ministry of tourism.