Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission
Mary Ann Tarantula is Chairman of the Zonta International United Nations Committee, Recording Secretary of the NGO CSW New York Executive Committee and Co-Chair of the Planning Committee for the 2013 NGO CSW Forum.
I am proud to report that the lives of women and children are improving in Rwanda.
Recently I took part in a panel discussion at an event held parallel to the 57th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The talk highlighted the tremendous work that has been done to protect women and children from HIV and gender-based violence in Rwanda. The panel, which included members of UNICEF, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and Zonta International, discussed Zonta International’s highly effective partnership with UNICEF to achieve progress in those areas.
It was a pleasure to have Sarah Karmin, UNICEF HIV Specialist in Emergencies; Kristi Burnham, Vice President of Community Engagement from UNICEF USA; and our own President Lynn McKenzie on the panel. Everyone did a fantastic job describing our collaborative work in Rwanda as well as answering important questions after the panel’s presentation.
What was truly amazing was the audience turnout, which left some without seats. Attendees had come from many different nations and organizations to gain more insight into what Zonta and UNICEF are doing in Rwanda to achieve an HIV-free generation by 2015. The audience was engaged and understood the link between gender-based violence and HIV.
I am enthusiastic about the future of both women and children. Since Zonta was founded in 1919, helping women in developing countries has been a passion of Zontians. Our partnership with UNICEF is facilitating significant improvements for women and children. Together, we are in the unique position to help virtually eliminate the occurrence of mother-to-child transmission in Rwanda by 2015. No longer will women worry that the babies they are carrying will be born with HIV. The panel was a tremendously rewarding experience, and one I will not soon forget.