In lead up to the 10th International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP), the Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (APA), Citizen News Service (CNS) and SEA-AIDS eForum team hosted an online consultation on key affected women and girls. The NGO Delegates for Asia-Pacific, Rathi Ramanathan and Jane Bruning, submitted their comments which focused on the UNAIDS gender-sensitivity of AIDS response background paper.
Below are the outcomes of the ICAAP Key Affected Women and Girls Community Forum.
KEY MESSAGES FROM KEY AFFECTED WOMEN AND GIRLS COMMUNITY FORUM
28 August 2011
Women and girls constitute key affected communities. We are women and girls of all ages and diverse sexualities, we are women and girls living with HIV, female sex workers, transgender women, migrant women, women who use drugs. We are AIDS widows, AIDS orphans, wives and intimate partners of MSMs, PLHIV, and people who use drugs. We share a lot of vulnerabilities and challenges faced by all key affected communities but because of our gender, we experience those vulnerabilities and challenges differently.
Women’s rights and gender equality is central to the success of the HIV response. If we want a truly effective, relevant and reality-grounded HIV response, then that response needs to be gendered and equitable. Our participation at all levels must be meaningful.
To achieve this, targeted and sustained investments need to be made in the areas of:
- Capacity and leadership development for key affected women and girls
- Movement building and mobilization among and between key affected women and girls
- Ensuring sustainable core funding to support positive women’s networks.
- Evidence-based research to guide targeted interventions for most at risk and most affected women, including those within key affected populations to ensure that their specific needs and rights are addressed.
WE CALL ON EVERYONE IN THIS ROOM TO SUPPORT US IN CARRYING OUT THESE MESSAGES. AND IF YOU DO CARRY OUT THESE MASSAGES, TO MEAN THEM. AND, PARTICULARLY TO DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS/FUNDERS, IF YOU REALLY MEAN THEM, TO FUND THEM. FUND US!
And here are our specific messages on the 3 themes of the CF:
ACCESS TO TREATMENT AND SERVICES
Key affected women and girls are entitled to equal and stigma-free access to treatment and services; we must be able to exercise their right to comprehensive education, services, and commodities related to sexual and reproductive health including HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support.
TREATMENT AS PREVENTION
Key affected women and girls must have equitable access to treatment literacy. Programmes must be rights-based and gender-sensitive; must never limit women’s full range of choices; and must be considered in the larger context of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Recent work on intimate partner transmission should be used to inform approaches to comprehensive counselling and treatment as prevention in the context of serodiscordant couples.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND SOCIAL PROTECTION
Recent studies in this region have clearly demonstrated that traditional and entrenched gender inequities exacerbate a disproportionate impact of HIV’s socio-economic burden on key affected women and girls underscoring the need for gendered approaches to social protection and human rights. Policy responses aimed at addressing the socio-economic impact of HIV must include specific programmes to address the impact on women and girls. Programmes must actively involve women and girls in design, implementation, monitoring amd evaluation; and must incorporate the multiple roles that women and girls occupy in their contexts. Programmes must be sensitive to the difference between protection of human rights and violations of those very rights; respecting the self-determination and autonomy of women and girls. Sexual and reproductive rights and freedoms must be recognised as a fundamental human right.