According to UNAIDS, Byanyima was appointed by the United Nations secretary-general, António Guterres following a comprehensive selection process that involved a search committee constituted by members of the UNAIDS programme coordinating board.
“I am honored to be joining UNAIDS as the executive director at such a critical time in the response to HIV,” Byanyima told UNAIDs shortly after her appointment.
Adding that “The end of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 is a goal that is within the world’s reach. But I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead. Working with all its partners, UNAIDS must continue to speak up for the people left behind and champion human rights as the only way to end the epidemic.”
Byanyima has previously served as the director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Programme and also as director of Women and Development at the African Union Commission.
At Oxfam, Byanyima led strong advocacy against inequality in the world, bringing to light how much wealth is owned by the top 1% compared to the majority of the world population. She strongly called on World leaders to act on this distortion.
Byanyima, 60, holds an advanced degree in mechanical engineering (in Energy Conservation and the Environment) from the Cranfield Institute of Technology and an undergraduate degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Manchester.
She is married to Dr Kizza Besigye, Uganda’s main opposition leader and they have a son, Anselm Besigye.