Press release

UNAIDS appoints the First Lady Neo Jane Masisi as a champion for adolescent girls and young women

NEW YORK/GENEVA, 21 September 2023—UNAIDS has designated the First Lady of Botswana, Neo Jane Masisi, as a UNAIDS champion for the empowerment and engagement of adolescent girls and young women. UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima, confirmed the appointment during a meeting with Mrs Masisi during the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“Her Excellency Mrs Masisi has a deep understanding of the structural barriers that are making adolescent girls and young women so vulnerable to HIV infection in Botswana and right across Africa,” said UNAIDS Executive Director, Winnie Byanyima. “Mrs Masisi is a fierce advocate for the rights of young women and girls and for the need to support them to stay in school, finish their education and receive the knowledge they need to help them thrive.”

Mrs Masisi has already been working closely with UNAIDS for several years as an advocate for young people. In her new role, Mrs Masisi will champion Education Plus, an initiative launched by UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women to prevent HIV infections through free universal, quality secondary education for all girls and boys in Africa, reinforced through comprehensive empowerment programmes. Botswana joined the initiative in June.

In Botswana, young girls aged 15-19 years old are seven times more likely to become infected with HIV than their male counterparts. During the meeting the First Lady said that surveys showed that between 2015 and 2019 young women and girls accounted for 36% of all new infections in Botswana and 19 are boys and 43 girls become infected every week.    

“I will be serving with this special title at a crucial moment. The SDGs are just around the corner and it is the last sprint to end AIDS by 2030,” said Mrs Masisi. “We will be discussing some hard issues to protect our children and young people. But the good thing about our communities today is that they realise that these are not ordinary times, and they know that doors that were closed, mouths that were sealed—its time they were opened. I remain resolute in directing energies to supporting young people in my country.”


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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