First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa (front row, fifth from the left) poses for a photograph with other first ladies and spouses of leaders in Ethiopia yesterday

FIRST Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has committed to assisting women, children and the vulnerable in society as part of her philanthropic work, and has this year lined up several programmes of action towards achievement of that goal.

She made the pledge yesterday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, while addressing the 22nd Ordinary General Assembly of the Organisation of the African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD).

The two-day meeting was running under the theme; “Collaborating to transform Africa: Addressing the needs of the vulnerable populations”.

“It is a pleasure to be with you again my dear sisters, fellow First Ladies. Under the new brand OAFLAD, I commit to continue supporting vulnerable groups, including among others, women, youth and the girl child, orphans and vulnerable children and elderly persons in institutions and people with disabilities (PWDs),” said the First Lady.

“You all agree with me that we need our women, youth and children to be healthy in order to realise overall development in Africa. As such, my previous interventions in health under OAFLAD remain relevant to OAFLAD, especially when combined with empowerment programmes and projects which I have initiated as well.”

She updated the OAFLAD on programmes she is embarking on in Zimbabwe to assist the vulnerable in society.

“I officially launched the Free to Shine Campaign in Zimbabwe on the 29th of August, 2018, and I am committed to championing this initiative in my country through advancing high level advocacy towards attaining this noble goal of eliminating mother to child transmission of HIV and syphilis,” she said.

This year, she has lined a number of programmes.

“These include the launch of “The First Lady and the Girl Child Programme” in February 2019 as a follow up to the Stakeholders’ Conference on the Girl Child that I convened on the 8th of January, 2019,” she said.

“The theme for the stakeholders’ conference was ‘Our Girl Our Pride Our Future’ and many stakeholders attended from line ministries, civil society, the AU Ambassador for Ending Early Child Marriages, UN Agencies, media and young girls in school and out of school.”

The First Lady told the OAFLAD that she was hosting community events and mass media campaigns to advance the Free to Shine Campaign, including championing the country’s efforts towards Validation of Elimination of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV and syphilis.

The First Lady will host a male conference to address low male involvement in health care and poor health seeking behaviour in men, as well as address child marriages and gender based violence.

“I will continue supporting the elderly people in institutions and people with disabilities in Zimbabwe. At the end of 2018, I visited my fellow sister Madam Margaret Kenyatta with my delegation on a learning tour where indeed we learnt a lot.

“My dear sister, thank you for hosting me in your country. On the same note, I am extending an invitation to you all my dear sisters to come to Zimbabwe and see what I am doing through my Angel of Hope Foundation. My I end by reiterating that I remain committed to working towards the fulfilment of the vision and mission of our rebranded OAFLAD.”-herald