Statement by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on the passing of Babatunde Osotimehin, head of UN Population Fund


It is with great sadness that we mourn the sudden loss of our friend and colleague, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, the staunch leader of UNFPA and a brother in our fight for gender equality and women’s empowerment. His death reminds us of all that we remember and celebrate in his life: his drive to advance issues central to progress in women’s lives that bring change to all of society, such as ending gender-based violence, and his understanding of the vital importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights; his tenacity in pursuing the end to harmful practices at a time that the agenda is under adversity; the solid, essential underpinning work on data collection, and our partnership on joint UN programmes.

As a former health minister in Nigeria, he understood and acted on the gender equality dimensions of the HIV infection and was a visionary in leading the efforts to end AIDS.  We will so miss the wise humanity he brought to his every endeavour, and the gravitas and humour that enriched all he touched.

Our condolences go to his immediate family, as well as to UNFPA, the wider UN family, his compatriots, and all whose lives are the poorer for today’s loss. In Dr. Babatunde we had a male feminist who walked the talk, and who deepened the discourse on the role of men and boys in the fight for gender equality and women’s empowerment. He was a true HeForShe champion.