Uganda’s Winnie Byanyima begins her role today as the new executive director for UNAIDS, overseeing the efforts of some 11 different United Nations agencies and their global partners united in the fight to end HIV/AIDS.
Byanyima said she’s pleased to accept the position at such a critical time for UNAIDS, and plans a focus on working with women and girls. “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,” she said when her appointment was announced. “Working with all its partners, UNAIDS must continue to speak up for the people left behind and champion human rights as the only way to end the epidemic.”
The 60-year-old Byanyima had been executive director of Oxfam International since 2013. She previously served as the director for gender and development for the UN Development Program.
Byanyima, the spouse of Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye, began her career as a member of the National Assembly in Uganda three decades ago. In 2004, she became the Director of Women and Development at the African Union Commission.
Byanyima holds an advanced degree from the Cranfield Institute of Technology, in mechanical engineering with a focus in energy conservation and the environment. Her undergraduate degree is in aeronautical engineering from the University of Manchester.
Image: UN file