Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Intervention made by Grace Sedio (Bomme Isago Association)
I speak on behalf of 16 civil society, women’s rights organizations and networks of women living with HIV, with a collective constituency of over 25 million women girls, who have been following the work of UNAIDS on women and girls.
1. We recognize the commitment of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board to women, girls, and gender equality as shown by the last three years of work, attempting to follow through on the decision to develop, a UN framework on women and girls. Whilst we appreciate the UNAIDS initiative to have consultations around the draft framework, we were disappointed that few women’s rights groups and networks of women living with HIV were afforded the opportunity to participate in the design of the framework. While we note the number of inputs received, as referred to by UNDP, it must be said that these are of little value if they are not incorporated into the framework and only sought at the end of the process.
2. While we appreciate the work that has gone into the framework thus far we are concerned that the draft document does not contain some of the key elements and issues raised by civil society, women’s networks and positive women’s groups. These can be found in the attached annex. We have the following concerns:
a. The process of developing the framework could have been stronger if it had included representatives of women’s rights organizations from the beginning and at all stages, rather than for such groups to come in only at the final stage and only as reviewers.
b. The quality of the framework has implications on the implementation of the framework and points to an underlying lack of capacity within the UN agencies to meaningfully engage with the population this framework seeks to affect and therefore meaningfully respond to the needs of women and girls. It also points to the need to bring programmatic experts on women and girls into the UN system.
c. Even though this is a framework for the UN, the UN is mandated is to work with governments, and stakeholders including civil society. This framework is still too anchored within the government and UN without enough recognition of the role being played by women’s rights organizations, community groups and networks in the response to HIV and AIDS. This is especially true in countries where states have failed and it is civil society who are responding to the pandemic.
We therefore recommend the following:
1. That the PCB note the progress made thus far and requests UNAIDS to incorporate the substantial comments made by women’s rights organizations and networks of women living with HIV, which were not included. These points will be made available to UNAIDS by the deadline of July 10th
2. The PCB requests the UNAIDS Executive Director to play a strong leadership and substantive role in moving this work forward by forming and leading an expert working group to develop a strong operational plan for the framework, in close collaboration with women’s rights organizations and networks of women living with HIV
3. The PCB requests the UNAIDS Secretariat to provide strong monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the framework, including costing, and review the progress made at the December 2010 PCB meeting
4. The final document and its operational plan should include specific actions related to capacity building of women’s rights organizations and networks of women living with HIV, as well as resource allocation for the implementation of key actions noted in the framework.
5. We respectfully request the Chair to ensure that our concerns are reflected in the record of this meeting.
In closing, we call for an effective response to the feminization of the epidemic that so many of us understand and live on a personal level. All women have the right to equal justice, opportunity and dignity without discrimination. Until these commitments translate into concrete actions for women and girls they will have little meaning anywhere.
African Services Committee
Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
ASTRA – Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Bomme Isago Association
CHOICE for youth and sexuality
Foundation for Studies and Research on Women (FEIM)
Girls Power Initiative, Nigeria
International Aids Women’s Caucus (IAWC)
International Community of Women Living with HIV – Southern Africa International Women’s Health Coalition (IWHC)
Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe
World AIDS Campaign (WAC)
Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights
ANNEX Key comments that still need to be included in the framework include:
1. The human rights commitments, including but not limited to Beijing, ICPD, and commitments to women and girls in the UNGASS and political declarations, be put in context and aligned with the framework.
2. The reproductive rights of all, including positive women, need to be recognized.
3. The UN, under the framework, should assist countries to complete simple, rapid assessments that identify key program and policy gaps, the actions needed to fill them, and resource organizations and people to do the work.
4. The framework needs to clarify how structural barriers to empowering women and girls will be addressed and overcome.
5. Greater clarity is needed regarding how women’s rights organizations and networks of women living with HIV will be included in programming, resourcing, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of the framework.
6. It remains to be noted that neither UNAIDS, nor PEPFAR has an indicator for progress on gender. The age group 15-24 is programmatically meaningless. UNAIDS’ agreement to construct a gender indicator and to report data, at a minimum, on age groups 10-14, 15-19, 20-24 would make a significant difference for program design and monitoring.