UN Appoints Winnie Byanyima UNAIDS Boss to Combat HIV

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has Wednesday announced his decision to appoint Winifred ‘Winnie’ Karagwa Byanyima of Uganda as the next Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

UN said the appointment follows “an open and wide-ranging” search process.

Led by the Co-sponsoring Organizations and chaired by Dr. Natalia Kanem, the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the process included interviews and consultations with Governments and other concerned parties through the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board.

The other two candidates that made it to the final three are from South Africa and the U.S.

Uganda’s envoy to United Nations, Adonia Ayebare has since congratulated Byanyima on her new appointment.

“She (Byanyima) did well in the interviews but all as a Mission and government we had a good support structure to support her candidature,” Ayebare told ChimpReportson Wednesday night.

“I thank the UN Secretary General for selecting her among other highly qualified candidates,” he added.

The new position is a big inspiration for the young women to rise and shine in their careers.

Earlier today, Byanyima told her colleagues at Oxfam where she is the Executive Director that a number of women’s rights activists, human rights activists and people living with HIV/AIDS “encouraged me most strongly to apply and lead the global effort at the UN to fight HIV/AIDS.”

She emphasised: “I have very personal reasons for doing so. I lost my brother Bernard to AIDS as well as many comrades, friends and relatives. I’m guardian to children who are HIV/AIDS orphans. Like most other Ugandans, HIV/AIDS has been part of my life and ending it is an extremely important social justice issue, particularly so in Africa where the epidemic is most experienced. I am greatly honoured to be selected to lead UNAIDS.”

Ms. Byanyima succeeds Michel Sidibé who was appointed as Minister of Health and Social Affairs of Mali.


The Secretary-General said he was grateful for Dr. Sidibé’s leadership of UNAIDS from 2009 to 2019 at the forefront of the global response to HIV and AIDS.

“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,” the UN statement reads in part.

Ms. Byanyima has been the Executive Director of Oxfam International since 2013.

Prior to Oxfam, she served for seven years as the Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Ms. Byanyima began her career as a champion of marginalized communities and women some 30 years ago as a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Uganda.

In 2004, she was named 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 which became an important tool towards reducing the disproportionate effect of the HIV pandemic on the lives of women in Africa.

She holds an advanced degree in Mechanical Engineering (Energy Conservation and Environment) from the Cranfield Institute of Technology, and an undergraduate degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Manchester.  She speaks English, Kiswahili and some French.  Ms. Byanyima is married to Dr Kizza Besigye. The couple is blessed with a son, Anselm.

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