20 years of OAFLAD in the DRC: First Lady Dominique Ouattara shares her experience to promote the organization of First Ladies

The 1st day of the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Organization of African First Ladies for Development held on Saturday June 17, 2023 at the Palais du Peuple in Kinshasa started with a plenary conference featuring panels led by the First Ladies on their contribution in their respective countries to the advancement of the organization’s causes.

The opening ceremony of this plenary conference witnessed the participation of H.E.M. Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Republic of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the host country of OAFLAD’s 20th anniversary celebrations, the organization’s First Ladies, as well as members of the Congolese government and several other personalities from around the world.

This plenary conference, with the theme set as “20 years at the service of Africa’s most vulnerable”, was an opportunity for the African First Ladies to discuss the challenges and issues still to be met in OAFLAD’s various fields of action.

On this occasion, the First Lady, Ms Dominique Ouattara was invited to share, during a panel discussion, her experience and commitments to important actions such as the improvement of health and education, the empowerment of women, the fight against child labor and her advocacy in the fight against pediatric AIDS in her capacity as UNAIDS Special Ambassador.  These diverse and varied commitments demonstrate that First Ladies can play a crucial role as spokespersons and advocates for key issues, using their position to raise awareness and mobilize resources in favor of programs and social initiatives for the well-being of populations.  The wife of the Head of State took this opportunity to outline the main actions she has carried out on behalf of the underprivileged as head of the Children Of Africa Foundation, but also as First Lady and UNAIDS Special Ambassador. “In 1998, I created the Children of Africa Foundation to help Africa’s disadvantaged children and their mothers. And in this context, we have criss-crossed Côte d’Ivoire, to immerse ourselves in the living conditions of the people. This important step led us to think about appropriate solutions to help as many people as possible out of poverty. It is therefore only natural that my actions as President of the Children Of Africa Foundation and First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire should contribute to achieving OAFLAD’s objectives”, explained Ms Dominique Ouattara. The wife of the Head of State spoke of her actions on behalf of vulnerable populations, as well as the challenges and issues she has faced.

Long before the round table, Ms Denise Nyakeru Tshisekedi, First Lady of the DRC and Vice-President of OAFLAD, had the honour of welcoming her fellow participants.

This was followed by a keynote address by Mrs. Monica Geincos, First Lady of the Republic of Namibia and current President of OAFLAD, who outlined the issues and challenges at stake in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the organization of African First Ladies.  These celebrations are an opportunity for the platform of Heads of State’s wives to take stock of two (02) decades of action on behalf of Africa’s most vulnerable citizens, and to anchor its ambitions for the next twenty years. A round table discussion enabled the First Ladies to share with their fellow First Ladies the actions they have taken to help the organization achieve its objectives.

H.E. Mr. Félix Antoine Tshisekedi, President of the Republic of the DRC, reiterated his support for the cause of women. “(…) You can count on me and my influence to advance the cause of women in Africa. For we all agree that without women, the world would not be what it is today”, he promised the First Ladies. Themes such as gender equality, reducing infant mortality and sexual reproduction were also addressed. He ended with a vibrant tribute to the First Ladies.

Several other First Ladies’ panels took place during the ceremony. OAFLAD was created 20 years ago to promote the socio-economic development of Africa through the commitment of First Ladies. The organization works on various initiatives, such as education, health, women’s empowerment and the fight against poverty. OAFLAD’s 20th anniversary celebrations provide an opportunity to reflect on past achievements and discuss future actions to promote sustainable development in Africa.