Thursday 13 July 2023


IT was more than a sisterly affair when First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa met her American counterpart Dr Jill Biden and other African First Ladies for a roundtable discussion which dwelt on the work they are doing through their foundations to make a difference in the lives of people during the Global First Ladies Academy underway here.

The strength of sisterhood permeated around the roundtable discussion where the First Ladies showed a spirit of supporting one another, working together and learning from each other to make sure that everyone supports their country in the programmes they have chosen to work with and make a difference in their communities.

She explained that she launched the vaccination programme in 2018 and since then, 800 000 young girls aged between 10 to 14 years have received the two-dose vaccination, but her wish and that of the country was to have a single-dose vaccination which would ensure that more girls were vaccinated.

Dr Biden shared with her counterparts her life history, her experiences with her programmes when she came into office that it was important for continuity in terms of programmes, but she mainly initiated programmes which were education based, but also looking at issues of mental health and depression.

Dr Mnangagwa was again requested to share her experiences in terms of fighting drug abuse in Zimbabwe and outlined that the issue of drug abuse and mental health had become rampant among the youth.

She said, as a mother, she was concerned with the rampant use of illicit drugs and her vision was setting up a rehabilitation facility.

The mother of the nation said she was willing to go an extra mile by making sure these drug survivors were exposed to empowerment programmes so that when they are fully rehabilitated, they are skilled and are able to look after themselves and contribute to the economy of the country.

Dr Biden commended Amai Mnangagwa for the good work which she is doing in the country.

Other First Ladies also shared their experiences during the roundtable.

In her remarks, Dr Biden expressed deep gratitude to have met her peers from across the world.

“It’s wonderful to see all of you. Meeting my peers around the world is one of the things I love most about this role of being a First Lady, including getting to know many of you. It’s in these moments that we find the common bonds that connect us across oceans and continents. When we support and mentor each other, we grow together, and our successes ripple outward,” she said.

Dr Biden shared her personal life experiences and the challenges she met adapting to life as a First Lady.

“When my husband, Joe, served in the Senate, being a political spouse was a small part of who I was. He had a job in Washington, D.C and I was a full-time teacher, raising our three kids, and pursuing my education. Politics was just one part of the equation. So when he was elected Vice President, I didn’t realise how much my life would change. Suddenly, I was giving national interviews and being asked to give speeches to thousands of people.

“It was out of my comfort zone to say the least. But I also knew that it was an incredible opportunity. I said to myself on day one: I will never waste this platform. The first public speech I gave was terrifying. My hands trembled; my voice caught in my throat. I tripped over my words. But I focused on why I was there – the chance to make a difference. And over time, it became easier.

“I saw how I was helping to drive progress for the issues I cared about – supporting community colleges, and supporting young people across the world. When I became First Lady, I knew that my life would change again. But still, there was nothing that could truly prepare me for the beauty or challenges of this life,” she said. Herald


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