UNAIDS lauds U.N. Women executive director Mlambo-Ngcuka appointment

The Joint U.N. Programme on HIV/AIDS welcomed the appointment on Thursday of Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka as executive director of the U.N. Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

Mlambo-Ngcuka was the first woman to hold the position of deputy president of South Africa, where she played a significant role in the country's HIV program. Mlambo-Ngcuka was a chair of the South African National AIDS Council and took a lead in developing broader and more cohesive collaboration with civil society and international partners.

"Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka is a respected leader and brings with her a wealth of experience in promoting the human rights of women and girls," Michel Sidibé, the executive director of UNAIDS, said. "She will be an important partner in the AIDS response as women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. We look forward to working closely with her to improve the lives of women and girls everywhere."

UNAIDS said that respect for women's reproductive and sexual health and gender equality are a necessity for effectively responding to HIV. Gender inequalities make girls and women more vulnerable to HIV and keep them from accessing HIV services.

U.N. Women was created in 2011 to provide a voice at national, regional and global levels for women's equality and rights. The entity highlights the contributions and priorities of women living with or affected by HIV, contributing to the integration of gender aspects into policies developed by AIDS councils in more than 35 countries and regional programs.

Starting in June 2012, U.N. Women became the newest of UNAIDS' 11 co-sponsoring organizations.