• May 24th, 2019
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First Lady at 42: A reflection on her three years in office

WINDHOEK – First Lady Monica Geingos turns 42 today. New Era reflects on Geingos’ three years in office as Namibia’s First Lady.

A walk down memory lane reminds us of the time Whoopi Goldberg told the world that she was moving to Namibia because the First Lady of Namibia “just gets it”. 

This was in June 2016, after a short encounter with Madam Geingos at the United Nations General Assembly high-level meeting on ending AIDS, a platform where she addressed and engaged international partners such as the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund on issues such as pragmatic approaches to eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV. 

Shortly after this, in September 2016, the First Lady addressed the US Congress on the need for continued engagement to address challenges related to HIV prevention, inequality and harmful gender norms.

Following this address, UNAIDS appointed Madam Geingos as its Special Advocate for Young Women and Adolescent Girls. “The First Lady has been a beacon of hope for adolescents living with HIV and what is not public knowledge is that her office often works with teen clubs of teenagers living with or affected by HIV/AIDS,” Helena Kuzee, the Executive Assistant in the Office of the First Lady said. 

Her office also works to strengthen the work of the National School Health Task Force responsible for implementation of the Integrated School Health Programme focusing on developing holistic academic and health well-being of school-going learners. 

“The issues of adolescents, both boys and girls, are close to the First Lady’s heart and she has quickly become an ally in helping them navigate the complexities of adolescence, develop critical thinking skills and make decisions that not only translate to better health outcomes but assist youth overcome anything that holds them back from reaching their potential,” added Kuzee. 

Since November 2016, Madam Geingos has engaged more than 10 000 youth in the country’s 14 regions.  The #BeFree movement has had an impact in promoting confidence and equipping young people with knowledge, said Kuzee. 
“This has certainly been a game changer and has proved that there is power in open and frank dialogue, but even more power in allowing young people to be at the fore of creating an impact by developing solutions for their problems,” Kuzee remarked.  

The First Lady advocates strongly for the provision of services to young people in order to ensure that they make informed choices, especially relating to sexual and reproductive health rights. 

Further, as the Patron of the Shack Dwellers Association of Namibia, the First Lady advocates for decent housing. She has also strengthened the fundraising portfolio of the association and was recently appointed by Shack Dwellers International to serve as the Chairperson of the Board of the Urban Poor Fund International, a subsidiary of Shack / Slum Dwellers International that provides capital to member national urban poor funds.

Madam Geingos describes the One Economy Foundation as her “Labour of Love” and since it was founded three years ago, the foundation has impacted lives, notes Kuzee. The foundation provides bridges of opportunity with the aim of creating access for those who may otherwise fall through a poverty crack, explained Kuzee. 

Also, Madam Geingos’ flagship education programme, the Talented Individual Programme has positively impacted the lives of 26 children from low-income households who are extremely talented but would have had constrained educational opportunities due to being raised in poverty, Kuzee highlighted. 

Equally so, the First Lady’s “strategic decision” to use her extensive corporate expertise to develop a collateral free lending product which is likely to change the face of micro-lending in Namibia has provided several small business owners with access to capital, Kuzee pointed out. 

Geingos’ latest campaign which strives to change how Namibians identify with and internalise violence was reactivated just yesterday (Wednesday) and it is clear that with the help of stakeholders her office has managed to bring on board, the thinking around violent behaviour in Namibia is bound to change, stated the Executive Assistant. 

International recognition
Geingos was recently awarded the Concordia Leadership award for her efforts in leading the way for health and socio-economic empowerment. 

“Never one to shy away from difficult conversations and delve into complex issues, with her wealth of experience, it comes as no surprise that the Oxford African Studies Center picked the First Lady to be one of their eight Board Members on the African Studies Center Board,” added Kuzee of Geingos’ achievements.   Furthermore, Kuzee stated: “As the youth like to say ‘our First Lady is doing the most.’” 

Even though the scope of her work is broad, Madam Geingos is living her dream of reaping social returns while being true to the words she spoke in 2016 when she said ‘each one of us has a responsibility to remove somebody out of poverty’, said Kuzee. 

Earlier this month, the First Lady was awarded the 2018 World Without AIDS Award in Berlin, alongside Irish entertainer, Sir Bob Geldof.

Happy Birthday Madam Geingos, thank you for projecting a positive image of our country, for empowering young people and for structurally changing lives. 

Staff Reporter
2018-11-15 09:22:37 6 months ago

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