Bience Gawanas

Former Under-Secretary-General, Special Advisor on Africa to the UN

Bience Gawanas, Former Under-Secretary-General, Special Advisor on Africa to the UN Ms. Gawanas has served as Special Adviser to Namibia’s Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare. Prior to this, she was Special Adviser to the Minister of Health and Social Services. A champion of women’s health and rights in Africa, she has been commended for her role in initiating far‑reaching campaigns, such as the continental Campaign on Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA). Ms. Gawanas was elected for two terms as Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in 2003 and 2008, during which time she was responsible for advocacy, as well as the harmonization and coordination of regional and continental policies and programmes promoting social development.

Her portfolio included health, HIV/AIDS and nutrition, migration and population, arts and culture, the welfare of vulnerable groups, labour and migration, and sports. From 1996 to 2003, she was Ombudswoman of Namibia, having previously worked as a lecturer on gender law at the University of Namibia, from 1995 to 1997, and as a lawyer at the Legal Assistance Centre, a human rights non‑governmental organization, from 1990 to 1991.