Feature story

Botswana’s First Lady visits UNAIDS to drive change for young women

24 October 2018

The First Lady of Botswana, Neo Masisi, visited UNAIDS headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on 24 October to discuss improving health outcomes for young people, especially adolescent girls.

The First Lady met the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, and UNAIDS staff members.

“We can work jointly to address issues affecting 8-18-year-olds to ensure that the future generation that will lead and build Botswana is healthy, HIV-free and is equipped with life skills,” said Ms Masisi.

Botswana has made important gains towards ending the AIDS epidemic, but action is needed to curb the recent rise in new HIV infections, particularly among young people—a total of 14 000 people became newly infected with HIV in 2017. Women and girls are particularly vulnerable: 67% of women experience gender-based violence and teenage pregnancy stands at 9.7%.    

Ms Masisi has been advocating for the empowerment of adolescent girls and young women to reduce their vulnerability. She listed social protection grants, economic programmes and promoting sexual and reproductive health as vital so that women live healthy and fulfilling lives.  

“You are in a strategic position to be a champion and driver of change for young women,” said Mr Sidibé. “UNAIDS is committed to support you and Botswana.”