NGO Delegate Jane Bruning speaks to the crowd of over 250 government and civil society representatives
From 6-8 February 2012, NGO Delegate for Asia and the Pacific, Jane Bruning, joined other civil society representatives at the Asia-Pacific High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Assessment of Progress against Commitments in the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS and the Millennium Development Goals held by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand.
While it was an intergovernmental meeting, it was the first time representatives of civil society had been invited, indicating UNESCAP’s commitment to the ESCAP Resolution 66/10 to engage in “partnerships with people living with HIV and AIDS, civil society, and faith-based and private-sector groups, guided by the priorities of the UNAIDS Outcome Framework 2009-2011.” Civil society acted only as observers but was offered the opportunity to make two formal interventions, which were made on behalf of NGO observers by Vince Crisostomo of 7 Sisters and a former UNAIDS PCB NGO Delegate for Asia and the Pacific.
Jane, coordinator of Positive Women New Zealand and representative of APN+, joined other experts in the civil society side event “The Gender Agenda: Making HIV Responses Work for Key affected Women and Girls” in offering examples of best practices and policies that have successfully addressed gender inequalities that limit the ability of countries to reach their globally agreed targets on HIV and AIDS. Hosted by BBC reporter Nisha Pillai, the panellists gave powerful analyses of what they believe are the areas of urgent gaps and challenges that stand in the way of progress and getting to zero and what governments can do to overcome these.
Jane shared her personal story to speak about the complex link between gender violence and HIV: 70% of women experience some sort of physical, emotional or sexual abuse in their lifetime; women who experience abuse are three times more likely to contract HIV. Programmes like Stepping Stones, developed in Uganda between 1993 and 1995 and first piloted in Fiji in 2008 and which focuses on social skills interventions aimed at building esteem, gender pride and resiliency among women and men, help to counter vulnerabilities and repressive attitudes and empower men to also be part of the solution. This programme, Jane pointed out, has been the only intervention outside of North America to show a decrease of reported male perpetration of violence, especially in communities where gender-based violence is rooted in cultural and social norms.
“We know the problem and we have solutions. It’s time to take the rhetoric from the paper and put it into action,” Jane urged the audience. “I ask everyone here in the room not to ignore the clear link between gender violence and HIV.”
You can read Jane’s personal story, “The Word on Women – Stop violence against women to curb HIV/AIDS spread – survivor” at TrustLaw, a news and information site on anti-corruption and women’s rights.
In addition, the Asia Pacific Coalition of AIDS Service Organizations (APCASO) in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (APA) distributed during the meeting a briefing paper entitled “Women and Girls: The 2011 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, Civil Society Perspectives on the 2011 HIV/AIDS High Level Meeting”. It evaluates the 2011 Political Declaration made at the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS held in June 2011. For further information, please read Citizen News Service’s article.
Speakers from the Gender Agenda session, including NGO Delegate Jane Bruning (centre), in addition to UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and Pacific’s Director Steve Kraus (back right), UNICEF’s Paula Bulancea (far right) and moderator Nisha Pilla (front right). All are wearing gifted pink scarves in support of the gender agenda.
NGO Delegate Ed Ngoksin from ITPC also attended the UNESCAP meeting