Empowering The Future: Gala Dinner In Honor of First Lady Mrs. Neo Jane Masisi As UNAIDS Champion
23 November 2023
In an historic event Mrs. Neo Jane Masisi is celebrated as the UNAIDS Champion for the Empowerment and Engagement of Adolescent Girls and Young Women.
In a historic event held at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) last night, the President's Office, in collaboration with UNAIDS and NAHPA, hosted a Gala Dinner to celebrate the recent appointment of Her Excellency Mrs. Neo Jane Masisi as the UNAIDS Champion for the Empowerment and Engagement of Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW).
This prestigious recognition, bestowed upon Mrs. Neo Jane Masisi during the 78th UN General Assembly in New York in September, signifies her remarkable strides in the global fight against the spread of HIV, especially among adolescents and young people. Notably, this follows her earlier honorary recognition in 2019 as the UNAIDS Special Ambassador for the empowerment and engagement of young people in Botswana
As a UNAIDS Champion, Mrs. Neo Jane Masisi operates internationally, leveraging her influence to address the persistent challenges posed by HIV/AIDS. This notable status is the second of its kind in Africa to be awarded by UNAIDS, underscoring her commitment to the HIV response for young people.
The Gala Dinner, attended by a distinguished audience including the President, Vice President, Minister of State, Head of the Diplomatic Corps in Botswana, Chairman of Ntlo ya Dikgosi, dignitaries from various sectors, and special guests- adolescent girls and your people- served as a platform for Mrs. Neo Jane Masisi to outline the strategic goals of her advocacy. These include supporting public engagement and education programs, collaborating with media and communication stakeholders, and actively participating in public sector legislation and policy mandates.
Other key figures, the Honourable Minister for State President Mr. Kabo Morwaeng, National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency Coordinator Mr. Ontiretse Letlhare, and UNAIDS Country Director Mr. Alankar Malviya, delivered impactful remarks during the evening. Young women also made their remarks including in entertaining poetic form,
Mrs. Neo Jane Masisi, in her acceptance statement, expressed her dedication to improving the lives of young women and girls, empowering them to be confident future leaders, successful entrepreneurs, and excel in all fields they aspire to pursue: "I accept this on behalf of Botswana and look forward to contributing in improving the lives of young women and girls and empower them to be confident future leaders, successful entrepreneurs, and excelling in all fields they aspire to pursue."
In his remarks the UNAIDS Country Director Mr. Alankar Malviya said, We thank you, Your Excellency for generously giving your time and leadership that helped to generate momentum towards achieving an inclusive response to AIDS, contributing in Botswana achieving 95-98-98 and amplifying voices of young people to facilitate youth friendly spaces.
However, the NAHPA National Coordinator shared, "Adolescent Girls and Young Women bear a disproportionate burden of HIV, accounting for 9% of the population but facing 24% of new infections. Although Botswana has surpassed the 95-95-95 UNAIDS global targets, the AGYW category falls below the national average, standing at 82.3% under the first 95% target."
Hon. Morwaeng celebrated Mrs. Neo Jane Masisi's second recognition from UNAIDS, stating, "What should please us the most as Batswana is that this high-level appointment is not the first for Mmaarona but the second recognition from UNAIDS. The appointment we are recognizing and celebrating here today serves as positive feedback and a vote of confidence for her performance in the previous role of Special Ambassador for young people in Botswana, a mandate which she executed diligently."
The President's Office, NAHPA, UNAIDS express their appreciation to all guests, partners, and sponsors who contributed to the success of this historic event. Botswana is prepared to make tremendous progress in the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS and bring hope and empowerment to the lives of adolescent girls and young women, with the First Lady spearheading the charge.