The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, appointed Winnie Byanyima as the UNAIDS Executive Director and United Nations Under-Secretary-General following a comprehensive selection process that involved a search committee constituted by members of the UNAIDS Program Coordinating Board. The UNAIDS Committee of Cosponsoring Organizations made the final recommendation on the appointment to the Secretary-General.
“I am honored to be joining UNAIDS as the Executive Director at such a critical time in the response to HIV,” said Ugandan-born 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 brings a wealth of experience and commitment in harnessing the power of governments, multilateral agencies, the private sector and civil society to end the AIDS epidemic around the world. She has been the Executive Director of Oxfam International since 2013. Prior to that, she served for seven years as the Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Program.
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 became the 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 that became an important tool for reducing the disproportionate effect of HIV on the lives of women in Africa.
She is the first Ugandan female to become an aeronautical engineer.
he holds a degree in energy conservation and the environment from the Cranfield Institute of Technology and an undergraduate degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Manchester. Having worked with Uganda Airlines as flight Engineer, she fled and joined current President Museveni in his bush war that led him to power in 1986.
A Press Statement from UNAIDS Geneva dated 14 August 2019, written on behalf of UN Secretary General Antonio Gueteres stated: ‘UNAIDS warmly welcomes the appointment of Winnie Byanyima as its new Executive Director. The Secretary-General also extended his appreciation and gratitude to the UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Management and Governance, Gunilla Carlsson, for her service as the Acting Executive Director.’
Ms Byanyima has more than 30 years of experience in political leadership, diplomacy and humanitarian engagement.
She is married to Ugandan Opposition stalwart Dr. Kizza Besigye, with one son Anselm.