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Winnie Byanyima takes top UNAIDS job

Uganda’s Byanyima. PHOTO OXFAM MEDIA

New YorkUnited States | THE INDEPENDENT | The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has named Winifred ‘Winnie’ Karagwa Byanyima as the next Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

The Ugandan leader on women’s rights, democratic governance and peace building has been Executive Director of Oxfam International since May 1, 2013.

“I am honoured to be joining UNAIDS as the Executive Director at such a critical time in the response to HIV,” said Byanyima. “The end of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 is a goal that is within the world’s reach, but I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead. Working with all its partners, UNAIDS must continue to speak up for the people left behind and champion human rights as the only way to end the epidemic.”

Byanyima fills the post left by Michel Sidibe (UNAIDS 2009-19) who is now minister of health in his native Mali.

According to a statement from the UN, the appointment follows an open and wide-ranging search process.

Led by the Co-sponsoring Organizations and chaired by Dr. Natalia Kanem, the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the process included interviews and consultations with Governments and other concerned parties through the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board.

“Byanyima brings a wealth of experience and commitment in harnessing the power of government, multilateral agencies, the private sector and civil society to end the HIV and AIDS crisis for communities around the world” the UNAIDS said in a statement.

Prior to Oxfam, she served for seven years as the Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Byanyima began her career as a champion of marginalized communities and women 30 years ago as a Member of Parliament in the National Assembly of Uganda.  In 2004, she was named Director of Women and Development at the African Union Commission, working on the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, an international human rights instrument which became an important tool towards reducing the disproportionate effect of the HIV pandemic on the lives of women in Africa.

“On behalf of the Oxfam International Secretariat and our global confederation, I thank our International Executive Director Winnie Byanyima for her leadership, energy and commitment to our mission in tackling poverty and inequality. Whilst it is with much regret to us that Winnie is leaving Oxfam, we wish her every success in this new and highly prestigious role,” said Dr Henrietta Campbell, Chair of Oxfam Board of Supervisors.

“Winnie has been a hugely influential figure during her tenure here, particularly in launching a significant organisational restructure that has helped to embed Oxfam’s work and our decision-making more firmly in the Global South, including relocating our International Secretariat to Nairobi, all to be closer to the people we exist to serve. She has been a passionate and highly effective advocate for all Oxfam’s work, particularly around gender justice and in tackling inequality.”

Byanyima holds an advanced degree in Mechanical Engineering (Energy Conservation and Environment) from the Cranfield Institute of Technology, and an undergraduate degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Manchester.   Byanyima is married – to leading Ugandan politician Dr Kizza Besigye – with one son.

What UNAIDS does?

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.

What Oxfam said

Oxfam is on a journey of change. Last year we reached 22.3 million people through our long-term development programs and humanitarian interventions, including in partnerships with more than 7,300 local civil society organizations. The Board of Supervisors has launched a recruitment process for our next International Executive Director and Oxfam’s whole leadership and staff across the world look forward to work with Winnie’s successor to continue the vital, life-saving and life-changing work that we do.



  1. I couldn’t be more proud of Winnie taking the leadership of UNAIDS. Importantly, this position will further strengthen her experience to be the President of the Republic of Uganda.

  2. I congratulate Winnie for the position and pray for success in her new mission. Adam Ole Mwarabu

  3. Congratulation To Winnie For Her Elevation To Tob Job In UNAIDS. May God Bless Her In Her Service.

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