First Ladies Have Leadership Role To Play In Efforts To End HIV/AIDS

STAT: First ladies can help lead the fight against HIV/AIDS
Agnes Mahomva, Zimbabwe country director for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and permanent secretary of Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health and Child Care

“…[W]omen need to lead on HIV/AIDS. A personal understanding of gender inequality and disempowerment gives them greater insight into overcoming those obstacles and better serving vulnerable populations. … [F]irst ladies have a special place in the rich history of women’s leadership on AIDS. … Citizens often see their first ladies as role models and moral leaders — a natural advantage in delivering sociocultural messages to the public. … First ladies also can leverage their authority to publicly denounce stigma and discrimination — social forces that interfere with diagnosis and care by forcing people living with HIV into the shadows. … [M]ost importantly, first ladies can play a crucial role in amplifying all women’s voices. Through their positions in national leadership, they have a natural platform for speech and advocacy that other women may struggle to access. Such privilege bestows opportunity — not just to make a difference themselves, but to make heard the voices and empower the actions of women of all ages who are living with and affected by HIV…” (5/29).

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