30 May 2013

Gambia: African First Ladies' 12th Ordinary Session Held

The Organisation of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS held its 12th Ordinary Session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as part of activities marking the 50th Anniversary of the OAU/AU Golden Jubilee and the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government. The sessions which are usually held alongside the African Union Summit, this year focused on reviewing the Organisation's Constitution. It also held a technical experts' meeting to look at areas that need adjustment and review, as well as to make recommendations to its Strategic Plan.

Fatou Lamin Faye, minister of Basic and Secondary Education; and Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, minister of Tourism and Culture, both represented the First Lady of the Republic of The Gambia, Her Excellency Madam Zineb Yahya Jammeh, at the high-level meeting.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily Observer at the end of the sessions, Minister Fatou Lamin Faye said the sessions began with the Technical Committee Meeting, held from the 23rd - 26th May, 2013, followed by the eight-member Steering Committee Meeting, with two representatives from each region. She explained that the Addis Ababa conclave also looked at broad issues of poverty eradication, maternal and child health, among other things. "We have also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the AU so that we get their support. We have also signed an MoU with International Planned Parenthood Federation and also engaged GAVI and we are working with a host of other partners too," she explained further.

Minister Faye further disclosed that they have also signed an MoU with other partners to mobilise resources. "Apart from that, each of the members of the organisation contributed US$5, 000 to fund the activities of the organisation. And aside from that we have also established a lot of partners key amongst them is the UNAIDS that have been funding a lot of our programmes including funding of the Secretariat that has been recently established here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia," she added. Minister Faye said apart from the main body, the organisation has established a national chapter. She said that of The Gambia is called OFLA-Gam, and that the First Lady, Her Excellency Madam Zineb Yahya Jammeh, is the head of the national chapter. Through this, she further said, they have initiated the 'Operation Save a Baby' initiative. "We sponsor the First babies of the year," she added.

Minister Faye also disclosed that OFLA has established the First Ladies' Peace Mission, headquartered in Abuja. This, body she went on, looks at areas where there are conflicts and try to make sure that they protect the interests of women and children as well as encourage their husbands to put down their weapons. Author: Musa Ndow

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