Decisions - Special Session of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (28 March 2019)

The Special PCB Meeting decisions are now posted.

You can view the decisions here.

Agenda 3 – intervention by Wangari Tharao, North American delegate


Agenda 3 – intervention by Alessandra Nilo, Latin America and the Caribbean delegate

Our delegation would like to stress the importance of this moment for the future of UNAIDS, when we have the entire world watching us. The responsibility of the new ED will be immense and we are particularly happy to see that the call for the new ED position specifically welcomes applications from women.

We strongly believe that after having two men responsible for leading UNAIDS, it is the right moment in history to have a woman taking this position: let's remember that, globally, the HIV response relies heavily on women's shoulders – as people living with and affected by HIV.

Let's remember that investing and promoting women's leadership is currently in the forefront of implementing the Agenda 2030 agenda and at a time when the world is increasingly discussing gender equality as an essential goal for sustainable development, a radical change in women's roles within UN agencies is deeply needed.

Let’s remember that we face a war against multilateralism, evidence-based approaches, and human rights, including in many countries that until recently used to be supportive to women's empowerment and women's rights.

Let’s remember as it was said by many Board Members today, that UNAIDS change of leadership poses a challenge to the organization, but it is also a unique opportunity for UNAIDS to once again lead by example.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for gender parity throughout the UN system. This is excellent, but must happen in practice, at all levels. Our Delegation is concerned to learn that the achievements of the UNAIDS Secretariat around parity in staffing have since rolled back. When looking into the Gender Action Plan, it would be problematic if UNAIDS moves backward in the area of gender parity.

Therefore, we have the opportunity and obligation as a Board to fix this, not least by ensuring that we recruit strong and diverse candidates to the position of Executive Director that, also, will be a strong voice committed to intervene, with courage, in points of conflict where people living with HIV and other key populations will suffer, such as the cases of Venezuela and Cameroon.

The message we have from our Civil Society constituencies is clear: We must ensure, as a global community, we put forward women, particularly women from the Global South.

In doing so, we will send a compelling message to both the Secretary General and the world: a message that we uphold the empowerment of women at the highest level.

A message that champions regional diversity and speaks to the shifts in the global HIV epidemic. This is a message that is informed by the abundant evidence, which shows that organizations and companies with more women and more diversity are more effective and achieve greater results.

More importantly at this juncture, a safer and more respectful workplace for all UNAIDS staff will result in a better AIDS response. In the end, it will contribute to the achievement of a Stronger UNAIDS.

Thank you.

PCB Special Session March 2019


Agenda Item 3: Selection process of the next Executive Director of UNAIDS

Delivered by Alessandra Nilo, NGO Latin America and Caribbean

Agenda 2 - intervention by Millie Milton, Latin America and the Caribbean delegate


Agenda 2 - intervention by Lucy Wanjiku Njenga, African delegate

Thank you, Chair.

A stronger UNAIDS is and will always be one that holds the vision of Ending AIDS and leaving no one behind. That is the UNAIDS we need. We are having this special PCB meeting because we want to look forward to and keep working on the vision of UNAIDS even as we appreciate the miles covered. In my country Kenya, we are battling with stockout of some regimens because the transition plan was not clearly articulated, young women and girls still can’t access DTG. In Venezuela, clinics are being closed by its own government and in Cameroon, people living with HIV have no hope. Meanwhile, in several countries in Asia-Pacific, we are seeing an increasing trend of new infections among key populations. These are the issues that should give us sleepless nights, the people we are working for, quality of life. Looking at what keeps the engine of UNAIDS running is the staff, when they are not experiencing their highest quality of life, it is hard to think or work on our quality of life, thus the Management Action plan.

The Management Action Plan is about changing culture. Achieving organizational culture change in UNAIDS must be an effort undertaken across the organization. Every single department and employee should embrace it . What is spoken of programmatically should be practiced internally. We are proud that UNAIDS has stood as a champion for human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment and we would like to see this expertise embedded throughout the implementation of the Management Action Plan. We have been disheartened to see that the gender team within the Secretariat has gotten smaller over the years. We see the current time as a crucial opportunity to rectify this, by installing senior full time gender and diversity expertise to champion the implementation of the Management Action Plan.

An effective Management Action Plan focuses on culture change, and managers have a role to play in that. In this case, people with supervisory power must also be focused in future endeavors to shifting the day to day behaviors at UNAIDS. A fundamental cultural shift, that empowers and supports its staff is critical to a UNAIDS that we need.

We remain guardedly optimistic about the Management Action Plan. We look forward to seeing how this plan will be implemented and, with the rest of the PCB, we will be monitoring regular updates on these actions over time. We are committed to a stronger UNAIDS, a UNAIDS that we still need, that is critical to so many of us as we continue to battle to access life saving medicines, people centered services and social enablers to ending AIDS as a public health threat.

PCB Special Session March 2019

Agenda Item 2: Update on prevention of and response to harassment, including sexual harassment; bullying and abuse of power at UNAIDS Secretariat

Delivered by Lucy Wanjiku Njenga, NGO Africa

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