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Ruairí de Búrca Director General, Irish Aid at Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland

Ruairí de Búrca leads the Division charged with managing the Irish Aid development cooperation programme.  In this capacity, he advises on the most effective and efficient policy options for the delivery of Ireland’s international development goals, including humanitarian aid.  He represents Irish positions on development matters in international fora, including the EU and UN.  He leads the team responsible for the timely and prudential delivery of Ireland’s development cooperation.  He also leads on Ireland’s bilateral relationship with Africa, including political and economic relations with the countries of that continent.

Dr Ailbhe Smyth – Irish Writer, Academic and Activist

  • Dr Ailbhe Smyth

Ailbhe Smyth is a long-time campaigner on feminist, LGBTI+ and socialist issues. The founding head of Women’s Studies at University College Dublin, she has published widely on feminism, politics and culture.  She chaired the National Lesbian and Gay Federation (NXF) for several years, and is a board member of Women’s Aid, and also of Age Action, and is co-founder and Convenor of the Coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment. She chairs the board of Ballyfermot STAR Addiction Services.

Ailbhe was a Strategic Executive member of the Yes Equality (equal marriage) campaign in 2015. She has been fighting for women’s right to choose since the 1980s and was Co-Director of the Together for Yes national referendum campaign in 2018. She was named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2019 for her work in repealing the 8th Amendment.  Ailbhe is a regular contributor to media and national debate on feminist and LGBTQ issues.

Prof. Sheila Tlou – Co-Chair of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition

Prof. Sheila Tlou is Co-Chair of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition, Special Ambassador for the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, Champion of the Nursing Now Challenge, Trustee to the Board of the Florence Nightingale Foundation (FNF), and Advisory Board member for the Harvard Global Nursing Leadership Program.

She is former UNAIDS Regional Director and former Minister of Health of Botswana, where she led a comprehensive HIV/AIDS program that is still a model in Africa. She is Professor Emerita of the University of Botswana and former Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Development in Primary Health Care.

As UNAIDS Regional Director, Prof. Tlou provided leadership and Political Advocacy for a sustainable AIDS response in 21 African countries. She holds a PhD in Nursing Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago., a Masters in Nursing Education from Columbia University, and a Master of Science in Nursing from the Catholic University of America. She has many publications on Human Rights and HIV/AIDS, and has received over 30 international awards for Leadership in Global Health, among them Botswana Presidential Order of Honor, Princess Srinagarindra award from Thailand, Christianne Reimann award from International Council of Nurses, and Princess Muna Al Hussein award from American Nurses Credentialing Centre. She is United Nations Eminent Person for Women, Girls, and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa.

Zvandiri & SUSO Youth Choirs – Choose to Dance

Zvandiri Youth Choir in Zimbabwe and the SpeakUp SingOut SUSO Youth Choir in County Kildare.

This video was launched as part of the Irish Aid Professor Father Michael Kelly HIV Lecture, December 1 – 2020. This track is the result of an international collaboration project between Zvandiri Youth Choir and SUSO Youth Choir.

Original song by Eimear Video produced by Eimear Crehan ( Video edited by Jamie Crehan (

Winnie Byanyima (UNAIDS Executive Director)

Keynote Speaker:

Winnie ByanyimaUNAIDS Executive Director

Winnie Byanyima is the Executive Director of UNAIDS and an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. A passionate and longstanding champion of social justice and gender equality, Ms Byanyima leads the United Nations’ efforts to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. Ms Byanyima believes that health care is a human right and was an early champion of a People’s Vaccine against the coronavirus that is available and free of charge to everyone, everywhere. Before joining UNAIDS, Ms Byanyima served as the Executive Director of Oxfam International, a confederation of 20 civil society organizations working in more than 90 countries worldwide, empowering people to create a future that is secure, just and free from poverty.

Ms Byanyima was elected for three terms and served 11 years in the parliament of her country, Uganda. She led Uganda’s first parliamentary women’s caucus, championing ground-breaking gender equality provisions in the county’s 1995 post-conflict constitution.

Ms Byanyima led the establishment of the African Union Commission’s Directorate of Gender and Development and also served as Director of Gender and Development at the United Nations Development Programme. She founded the Forum for Women in Democracy, an influential Ugandan nongovernmental organization, and has been deeply involved in building global and African coalitions on social justice issues. A global leader on inequality, Ms Byanyima has co-chaired the World Economic Forum and served on the World Bank’s Advisory Council on Gender and Development, the International Labour Organization’s Global Commission on the Future of Work and the Global Commission on Adaptation. Ms Byanyima is a recipient of several awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom, an honorary doctorate from Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada, and the 2018 Human Rights and Solidarity among Peoples Prize, awarded by the Latin American Council of Social Sciences.


  • Prof. Sheila Tlou