Mama Rachel Ruto joins Inaugural Global First Ladies Academy to advance health and development

New York, NY – First Lady of Kenya, Mama Rachel Ruto, joined First Ladies from across Africa at the Global First Ladies Academy’s inaugural executive leadership program hosted by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. 

The four-day symposium, which commenced on July 10, 2023, seeks to facilitate discussions on current health trends, critical research, and sustainable approaches to promote population health and well-being.

Other First Ladies in attendance include Jane Masisi of Botswana, Monica Chakwera of Malawi, Auxillia Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow of Gambia, Isaura Gonçalo Ferrão Nyusi of Mozambique and Monica Geingos of Namibia. 

During the sessions, First Ladies and their senior advisors engage in workshops, roundtable discussions, and interdisciplinary strategies to address pressing health and development issues in their respective countries and regions. 

The topics covered included communicable and chronic disease management, community health, maternal and child health, climate change, health systems, and gender gaps in healthcare access.

The Global First Ladies Academy was established to support the efforts of First Ladies in catalysing positive impact and social transformation in their communities and worldwide. 

By fostering collaboration between First Ladies at regional and global levels, the academy aims to facilitate programmatic and policy initiatives related to health, education, gender equality, economic development, and climate change.

Cora Neumann, PhD, President and Founder of the Global First Ladies Alliance (GFLA), emphasised the influential role of First Ladies and their potential for effecting change. 

First Lady of Namibia, Her Excellency Monica Geingos, who serves as the President of the Organization of African First Ladies, acknowledged the significance of the Global First Ladies Academy in facilitating dialogues with experts and peers. 

Geingos emphasised the importance of strengthening First Ladies’ voices and enabling them to take action on pressing issues while leveraging their individual and collective platforms.

The symposium featured other leaders such as Hon. Anita McBride, former Senior Advisor to George W. Bush and Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush, along with experts from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, including Dean Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH, and other prominent figures in public health and medicine.

The executive leadership program of the Global First Ladies Academy is a partnership among Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, the Global First Ladies Alliance, and the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD).

The inaugural executive leadership program of the Global First Ladies Academy marks a significant milestone in empowering First Ladies to create lasting change in their communities and contribute to global development efforts. The valuable knowledge and collaborations fostered during the symposium are expected to have a far-reaching impact on health and development across Africa and beyond.

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