The staff and board of the International Women’s Health Coalition are shocked and saddened by the passing of Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), last night.
Throughout his career, Dr. Osotimehin demonstrated a strong commitment to women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights, and was known for his tireless advocacy to combat child marriage and other abuses perpetrated in the name of traditional culture. He demonstrated great courage as Nigeria’s Minister of Health and its Director of National AIDS Control, where he fought to ensure the government responded to the HIV epidemic—at a time when many leaders denied that HIV was affecting their countries.
At IWHC’s 2013 Annual Gala, Dr. Osotimehin presented the first ever Joan B. Dunlop Award—a recognition of outstanding leadership from an activist working to advance the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls. We were thrilled that the award went to fellow Nigerian Adenike Esiet of Action Health Incorporated. Dr. Osotimehin had met IWHC’s founder Joan Dunlop at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 and cited her as a major influence on his thinking regarding women’s rights.
We offer our sincere condolences to Dr. Osotimehin’s family and friends.