AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Jul 24 – First Lady Margaret Kenyatta held extensive talks with Princess Mabel Van Oranje of the Netherlands Wednesday, where they discussed collaboration between the Princess’s ‘Girls Not Brides’ global partnership and Beyond Zero initiative.
The First Lady also held separate talks with Prince Harry and Sir Elton John at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, where the Duke of Sussex and the rock music icon launched a $1.2 billion initiative – the MenStar Coalition – to fight AIDS in Sub Saharan Africa.
The first project on the coalition’s list will be to encourage young men in Kenya for self-testing in the campaign dubbed “Chukua Selfie.”
During the first meeting with Princess Mabel, the two leaders focused on reproductive health including child bride marriages, early pregnancies, gender violence, HIV/AIDS and how these issues affect the education and development of the girl child.
The First Lady used a short video-clip to demonstrate the successes of the five-year Beyond Zero drive and how the initiative delivers varied health services to millions of Kenyans in hard to reach parts of the country, using fully kitted mobile clinics as enablers.
The mandate of Beyond Zero was initially focused on HIV/AIDS control and the promotion of maternal, new born and child health. With time and the delivery of mobile clinics to all the 47 counties, this mandate has expanded to cover a wider spectrum of health services.
Princess Mabel said there were many similarities between the work of Beyond Zero and her ‘Girls Not Brides’ Partnership, hence the need for closer collaboration.
Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 1,000 civil society organisations from over 97 countries committed to ending child marriage and enabling girls to fulfil their potential.
Its members are based throughout Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. Three organizations from Kenya are already members of the partnership.
During the discussion, Princess Mabel proposed a global movement of all organizations working for women and the girl child to bring the issues affecting them to the global attention.
“Let’s create a strong global movement and through collaboration with change makers mobilize resources and compare lessons in various countries”, said Princess Mabel
The Dutch Princess talked glowingly about Kenya’s practical approach to health issues and proposed that the country should be the launch-pad for the global movement.
“Kenya is known for its practical approaches to many issues. Kenya should be the exemplary case for the global movement”, a proposal the First Lady described as a fantastic idea.
On HIV/AIDS among women and girls, the two leaders underlined the central role played by men in the transmission of the HIV virus.
Princess Mabel emphasized the need to encourage men to protect themselves and the women.
The First Lady’s talks with both Prince Harry and Sir Elton John focused on her commitment to the welfare of women and the girl child through the Beyond Zero campaign.
Sir Elton was particularly interested on details about the initiative especially its success milestones.
After the lengthy but separate talks, the First Lady invited Prince Harry and Sir Elton to visit Kenya.
Before meeting Prince Harry and Elton John, the First Lady sat through one of the plenary sessions at the Rai International Convention Centre AIDS 2018 conference in Amsterdam where the Duke of Sussex and the renowned music icon launched the MenStar Coalition.
MenStar Coalition is a $1.2billion initiative to break the HIV transmission cycle in men through testing and treatment.
The Coalition has set a target of eliminating the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Both Prince Harry and Elton John are HIV and AIDS campaigners and have been part of various global interventions.
Seven groups fighting to eradicate AIDS have come together for this coalition. These include the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Gilead and the US government’s PEPFAR programme.