First Lady Margaret Kenyatta pledges support for total ban on use of plastics

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has voiced her support for the total ban on the use of plastics, saying it will help reduce environmental pollution.

The First Lady noted that environmental pollution caused by plastics place a disproportionate burden on women and children, particularly those from poor and vulnerable communities.

“To this end, I make a personal pledge to add my voice to a total ban on the use of plastics,” the First Lady said.

“I will continue to support local communities, especially women and children in advancing their conservation programmes including recycling of waste, tree planting and production of biodegradable bags,” she added.

The First Lady made the remarks on Sunday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, when she delivered a keynote address during a High-Level Working Session on Banning of Plastics in Africa held on the margins of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union. The meeting saw the launch of a campaign towards a pollution free planet.

She emphasized that she will support advocacy for lifestyle behavioural change that promotes the use of biodegradable materials and waste management initiatives, saying the threat posed to the environment by plastics is real.

“I look forward to serving as a champion for this campaign, together with you, towards the banning of plastics on the African continent,” she told other First Ladies who attended the meeting.

The Kenyan First Lady informed the meeting that Kenya recognizes the adverse effects of plastics on the environment as a pollutant and its contribution to climate change, and has joined the global call towards a pollution free world.

“Kenya has taken a lead in this effort. We banned the manufacture, sale and use of plastic carrier bags in August 2017. We have in place clear legal guidelines on use of plastics which place stiff penalties on those who contravene the law,” First Lady Margaret Kenyatta said.

Acknowledging that the push against the use of plastics requires strong legislation as well as capacity building, the First Lady called for the collective application of sustainable and innovative measures.

The Kenyan First Lady is one of the ten high profile continental champions selected to spearhead the campaign to ban plastics and thus reduce their negative impacts on the environment in Africa. First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and her Rwandan counterpart Jeannette Kagame represent the Eastern Africa region.

Central Africa is represented by Congo and Gabon, North Africa by Egypt and Mauritania, West Africa by the Gambia and Ghana while Southern Africa is represented by Angola and Botswana.

Other speakers included First Ladies Neo Masisi of Botswana and Fatoumata Bah Barrow of the Gambia as well as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) acting Executive Director Joyce Msuya.

Earlier, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, in her capacity as the Vice President of the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), co-chaired a session of the 22nd OAFLA General Assembly with OAFLA President Madam Adjoavi Sika Kabore, the First Lady of Burkina Faso.

Ahead of the meeting held at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Kenyan First Lady interacted with her counterparts from across the continent, sharing her vision on improving the welfare of Kenyans, especially on health through the Beyond Zero initiative.

During the session, minutes of the 21st Ordinary General Assembly were adopted, and the OAFLA Steering Committee report was presented and discussed.

The OAFLA President, Madam Adjoavi Sika Kabore, congratulated First Lady Margaret Kenyatta on her election to the position of Vice President of the not-for-profit organization founded in 2002 by 37 First Ladies to steer the fight against HIV/AIDS on the continent.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and her counterparts also attended the official opening of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union.