At the 27th PCB in December 2010 in Geneva, several civil society organizations came together to highlight the needs and issues of women and girls in a strengthened HIV response. Their intervention can be read below.
Ebony Johnson, North American Community Liaison, International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW):
I speak on behalf of the International Community of Women Living with HIV ICW-Global, the International Women’s Health Coalition, the International AIDS Women’s Caucus, the World Young Women’s Christian Association, Gestos, the World AIDS Campaign, and the Foundation for Research and Studies on Women.
We clearly align ourselves with and support the position and interventions made by the NGO delegation. The United Kingdom, African Group, India, Brazil, United States, Turkey, El Salvador, Netherlands and others on this Board have made numerous references to the centrality of addressing the main drivers of the epidemic in order to increase prevention efforts, meeting the needs of affected communities, and recognizing that gender inequality, discrimination and human rights violations that women and girls face in relation to their sexuality and their lives are the main drivers of the AIDS pandemic. Now is the time to present measurable and concrete results that can enhance longevity, health and quality of life for all women and girls. We know that UNAIDS has a fundamental role to play and as Michel noted this morning, UNAIDS can leverage AIDS resources and coordination at the country level to demonstrate greater health and development outcomes.
We recognize the Executive Director’s strong commitment and leadership on creating the Agenda for Women and Girls through a highly consultative process in only four months during 2009. This kind of political will is fundamental to strengthen the UNAIDS family’s implementation of the Agenda at the country level, which is where AIDS programs and resources are delivered. In order to get more value for the money and show results, women must be comprehensively prioritized in both the AIDS and HR responses. This entails bringing together stakeholders at country level, particularly women’s groups, including women living with HIV, donors, National AIDS Control authorities, relevant ministries, and necessary multilateral organizations to identify key interventions, programming and the development of
As we heard in the presentations from China, Liberia and Uganda, Integrated SRH and HIV/AIDS services and programs, protection of our human rights, increase health and facilitate adequate responses to violence against women, yet there is still remains a lack in the AIDS programs and budgets for most of the countries in which we live, work, and know.
Aiming to contribute to the implementation of the Agenda for Women and Girls, in February of 2009 HIV and women’s organizations created a community brief on how to engage with the Joint Programme at country level to further this process. Organizations are ready to engage and can benefit from a dedicated and proactive stance from UNAIDS.
This can be achieved if UNAIDS supports and involves women lead service and delivery programs, comprehensive sexuality education programs that empower girls and women, inclusive of those living with HIV and AIDS who experience unique and expanded challenges. This is imperative to the autonomy and exercise of our rights and ability to make free and informed choices about sexuality, reproduction, participation in microfinance initiatives or other opportunities to enhance our health, longevity and overall quality of life. UNAIDS can act as a facilitator and invite these women to the decision-making table at the national level and to consult them on major priorities that need to be financially resourced through
National AIDS strategies. Further, the UNAIDS family needs to strengthen the capacity of its staff to provide adequate technical assistance to countries on implementing pieces of the Agenda that are relevant in the respective local contexts. This is possible, feasible, and achievable and we firmly believe that UNAIDS will be responsive.
We continue to request a well designed strategy with clear indicators to better monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Agenda. We welcome reports that are not merely reflecting broad and non specific quantative indicators, we want qualitative data (for example showing not merely the volume of women’s organizations have been consulted, rather the extent, outcomes and ensuing partnership roles).
There is great need, yes, but there are also very specific, results-based, quantifiable actions we can take to reduce women’s vulnerability and risk to HIV and to ensure women with HIV lead just and healthy lives.
All women, especially young women, must have access to adequate
- existing and emerging prevention tools such as male and female condoms
- comprehensive sexuality education beyond the scope of medical or school settings
- provision of comprehensive services from providers who how are culturally competent, inclusive and sensitive to the unique needs of women and girls
- access to including Antiretrovirals and the food, transportation and access mechanisms that allow for uptake
respect for informed consent
- protection from all types of violence and fulfillment of women’s human rights.
All of these are actions that must and can happen at country level beyond well designed strategies and policies on paper. As such, we are counting on the compassion and practice of UNAIDS to be actionable in rallying the political will and commitment of governments, coordination within the UN family to deliver and allocate resources and commitment to strategic and develop and sustain strategic partnership with women and girls. In harmony with India, we to know that addressing issues of women will tie into the success of achieving universal access to prevention and treatment 2.0.
Read another civil society intervention on our blog here.