The change in the leadership of the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD), officially took place at a ceremony held at the Burkina Faso Embassy in the United States on Wednesday, with the new vice president of the organisation, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, calling for urgent attention on issues of gender-based violence, child marriages, non-communicable diseases and sustainable empowerment of women and the youths.
Amai Mnangagwa was voted vice president of OAFLAD in recognition of her philanthropic work and assistance to the less-privileged in Zimbabwe.
She was appointed after elections held during the 23rd OAFLAD's General Assembly meeting that ran concurrently with the African Union's Extraordinary Summit in Niamey, Niger in July this year.
Amai Mnangagwa took over from the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta, while the First Lady of Congo Brazzaville Antoinette Sassou Nguesso, took over as president from Burkina Faso First Lady Adjoavi Sika Kabore.
The First Ladies and OAFLAD secretariat met at the Burkina Faso Embassy for the signing ceremony.
In her acceptance speech, Amai Mnangagwa said there was a lot to be done by the organisation to improve the lives of African people.
The First Lady said she was honoured to have been selected to the post of vice president adding that she accepted the responsibilities that came with the job.
"Our organisation requires a lot of work if we are to improve the lives of our people," she said.
"As enshrined in our 2019-2023 strategic document, I will direct the attention of all our members to key focus areas that need urgent attention especially gender-based violence (GBV), child marriages, HIV in newborns, non-communicable diseases (NCDS) and sustainable empowerment of women and youth. We need to accelerate and move with speed in addressing these issues."
The First Lady said since OAFLAD previously named Organisation of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), was formed with emphasis on HIV and Aids elimination, most countries have realised success in varying degrees particularly in new cases of HIV infection.
"However, in terms of access and usage of antiretroviral therapy and medication, there has been challenges ranging from inadequacy leading to inconsistency in adherence," she said.
She added that the change from OAFLA to OAFLAD came at the realisation that without sustainable development, the war against HIV would never be won.
"This realisation calls for all of us First Ladies to move away from 'business as usual approach' and start focusing on agendas 2030 and 2063 respectively," Amai Mnangagwa said.
In order to achieve their goals as OAFLAD, the First Lady proposed that they set targets for each other and the organisation to help member states in monitoring progress of implementation of projects and programmes.
She also suggested that the organisation "initiate and encourage interregional learning exchange visits by OAFLAD member First Ladies.
"I am also proposing the convening of General Assembly sessions by First Ladies on their own without having to rely on events of heads of State as side events," she said.
Amai Mnangagwa called for unity among the OAFLAD members for the development of the continent adding that she would advocate for all members to learn French and English to bridge the communication barrier between Anglophone and Francophone countries.