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Monica Geingos, First Lady of Namibia and UNAIDS Special Advocate for Young Women and Adolescent Girls, at a community dialogue with adolescent girls and young women in Windhoek, Namibia. Monica Geingos, First Lady of Namibia and UNAIDS Special Advocate for Young Women and Adolescent Girls, at a community dialogue with adolescent girls and young women in Windhoek, Namibia.

Engaging young minds

28 November 2017

When a girl has hope she is more likely to stay in school, not to fall pregnant and make the right decisions around friends, around boyfriends, around life issues.

Monica Geingos, First Lady of Namibia and UNAIDS Special Advocate for Young Women and Adolescent Girls

1Monica Geingos is on a mission. As Namibia’s First Lady and UNAIDS Special Advocate for Young Women and Adolescent Girls, she makes it her business to have meaningful conversations wherever she goes. “I am trying to give adolescent girls and young women hope,” she says. “When a girl has hope she is more likely to stay in school, not fall pregnant and make the right decisions around friends, boyfriends and life issues.”

It doesn’t matter where the talking happens—schools, clubs, town halls, under marquees or on the side of the road—as long as it does. Through this dialogue, the First Lady has an opportunity to empower the young women she encounters with information that will help them make the best life choices possible.

Her strategy is working. She says she receives hundreds of letters a week from young women and girls telling her their stories and asking for advice and assistance.

The First Lady champions the Start Free, Stay Free, AIDS Free agenda in Namibia and has launched her own version of the campaign: #BeFree. She has travelled all over the world advocating for the campaign principle: stay free of HIV, unintended pregnancy and other obstacles that prevent adolescent girls and young women from reaching their full potential. So far the campaign has reached 10 out of 14 regions in Namibia.

“My role is to share information, from my perspective to them and allow them to speak to me so I can better understand the issues that they are going through,” she says. “If some of them require policy responses, my role is to influence the policy response around that.”