H.E. Dr. Speciosa Wandira

Former Vice President, Republic of Uganda

Dr. Wandira served as Uganda's Vice President from 1994 until 2003. When she was elected, she became the first and only woman in Africa to hold such a position. Since then, a great deal of her time and energy goes into advocating for affirmative action for women and other marginalized groups, including the elderly and disabled. She points out: "My mission is to see the emancipation of rural women through functional skills development and access to micro-financing to ensure internally generated improvement."

At the community level, she was elected village leader under the National Resistance Movement (NRM). Her involvement at this level encouraged her to be more active politically and she was later elected Women’s Representative for the Kampala District in the NRM Council when it was in power. She has always remained close to the people who elected her.

A committed member of the Democratic Party, serving both the youth and women’s wings, she became Chairperson of the Advisory Committee to President Museveni’s successful election campaign.

She held a number of positions in the NRM government. She served as Deputy Minister for Industry from 1989 to 1991, and as Minister for Gender and Community Development. In 1994, Dr. Wandira was appointed Vice-President and Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries. Also in 1994, Dr. Wandira was elected member of the Constituent Assembly that drafted Uganda’s new constitution. In 1996, she was elected Member of Parliament for the constituency of Kigulu South in the Iganga District.

In August 2013, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon appointed Dr. Wandira as his Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. She also currently serves as Senior Adviser to the President of Uganda on issues of population and health.

Dr. Wandira is an active member of a wide range of local organizations. She chairs the board of directors of Microfinance Support Center Ltd., is Chairperson of the Senior Women’s Advisory Group (SWAG) on the environment, a member of both the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited (UWEAL) and the Uganda Women Doctors Association, and has served as Chairperson of the African Women Committee on Peace and Development (AWCPD).

Her active involvement in all these fields is reflected through her nomination for many awards and the appreciation shown by people and organisations in Uganda and abroad. In 1994, Dr. Wandira was named "Woman of the Year" by The Monitor. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) awarded her the "Ceres Medal" for her contribution to food security and poverty eradication in 1998. In the same year, she also was nominated "African Woman Entrepreneur" and the Center for Development Activities in Washington, DC also crowned her with their Leadership Award.

Dr. Wandira was born in the Inganga District in Eastern Uganda. She has four children and has adopted several more from disadvantaged families in various parts of Uganda. A medical doctor by profession, she studied at Makerere University in Kampala and Harvard University in the United States.