It is widely acknowledged that achieving gender equality is critical to driving social and economic progress for all and building the world that we want.

With this premise, African First Ladies gathered over the past weekend in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD), under the theme “20 years at the Service of Africa’s most vulnerable”. On the anniversary first ladies accross Africa launched a year-long campaign “We are Equal” to advance gender equity and close the gender gap across the continent.

During the event, H.E. Roman Tesfaye, the former First Lady of Ethiopia and CEO of the Hailemariam & Roman Foundation(HRF), said “we need to exhaust our every potential of influence to uplift vulnerable group of our society.” In her speech, H.E. Roman discussed her experiences as first lady, including the mobilization of resources from sources outside of Her Office to launch various programs. The cervical and breast cancer initiative, the HIV and AIDS initiative, the women’s economic empowerment initiative, the school feeding program, and the nutrition initiative were among the effective programs she ran during her tenure in office.

“I touched every button, I knocked every door collaborated with many and never gave up when things were hopeless. I cannot give the details of the achievements at this juncture but can share my experiences to whoever interested if the need be in the future,” she added.

Finally, H.E.Roman highlighted on some of the projects the HRF has undertaken to improve the lives of women and children in the pastoralist communities and semi pastoral communities of river Omo valley region, which include MNCH and Nutrition, Women and youth economic empowerment and Climate smart conservation and ecotourism. She concluded by adding, “My husband and I are continued to serve the people of Ethiopia using our organization; like wise we are committed to support with our capacity OAFLAD and our continent Africa in whatever way you want us.”

Hailemariam & Roman Foundation

June 2023