By Oforiwa Darko
African First Ladies have met on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly in New York, to discuss the strategic focus of the organisation for the next two years.
African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) has been working in its twenty years of existence to first eliminate HIV/AIDS in Africa. In the last four years, it has broadened its ambit to include other developmental issues that focus on the wellbeing of women and vulnerable populations in Africa.
Consensus reached by the First Ladies was to prioritise and streamline the strategic focus of the organisation to make them more impactful and measurable.
They also agreed on the need to increase visibility of the organisation by deploying both traditional and social media in a more purposeful manner. The First Ladies also discussed how to attract strategic partnerships and build relationships that would facilitate access to technical support and critical assistance for their work, to enable them address the challenges that women in Africa face.
The First Lady of Ghana, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, commended Mrs Monica Geingos, First Lady of Namibia and current OAFLAD President, for spearheading OAFLAD with renewed energy, building on the foundation laid by her predecessors. Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, during her intervention also called for greater efficiency and commitment in OAFLADS fundraising efforts.
She charged members to consider using advocacy as a fund-raising mechanism to support causes that challenge existing problems and draw the attention of strategic partners and funders. She also called for greater efforts in mainstreaming the needs of persons who live with disabilities in the strategic focus of OAFLAD.
The current President of OAFLAD, Mrs Monica Geingos, tasked her colleague First Ladies to use their offices in strategic ways that empower women and engender development in Africa. As part of the 20th year anniversary celebrations of OAFLAD, a fundraising event would be held in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The First Ladies all pledged to continue advocacy, by speaking with a united voice for issues of concern to African women.
In attendance were First Ladies from Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic republic of Congo, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya , Namibia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone , Zambia and Zimbabwe. Also present were partners from the Buffett Foundation, the Ford Foundation and other international NGOs.