At the International AIDS Conference (IAC) held in Washington, DC, on 22–27 July 2012, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, managed by UN Women on behalf of the UN system, turned the spotlight on the inextricable link between HIV and violence based on gender.
This issue was the focus of a panel discussion cosponsored by UN Women and the World Health Organization (WHO) on Gender-Based Violence and HIV/AIDS: Taking Stock of the Evidence and Setting an Implementation Agenda. The Chief of the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, Meryem Aslan, presented a policy paper titled “Effective Approaches to Addressing the Intersection of Violence against Women and HIV/AIDS.” The document includes a set of key recommendations for action, based on the findings from programmes supported by the UN Trust Fund around the world.
“Investing in long-term interventions, challenging stigma, discrimination and harmful norms against women and girls is investing in a future with zero violence and HIV/AIDS,” said Ms. Aslan during the presentation.
The selected programmes all reinforce the need for significant change in societies and societal institutions around the world in order to stop violence against women and the subsequent spread of HIV. These changes must centre on the empowerment of women and girls, the transformation of social norms and the end of tacit and explicit acceptance of violence against women. Holding perpetrators of violence against women accountable is also key to addressing the issue.
While shedding light on approaches that foster attitudinal and behavioural change, the document highlights experiences and the impact of projects and policies as well as lived experiences and aspirations of survivors of violence, HIV-positive women and health workers.
“I just want an average life like others,” said one of the programme participants. “It doesn’t matter if I am HIV-positive or -negative.”
The policy paper underlines the fact that survivors of violence and HIV-positive women are the experts on their own lived experiences, and their engagement in all aspects of awareness-raising and capacity-building, implementation, monitoring and evaluation should be increased.
“Survivors of violence and HIV-positive women may not wish to be identified solely on the basis of their HIV status or experience of violence,” emphasized Ms. Aslan. “Policies and programmes must build on their lived experiences and empower them to speak with their own voices, promoting their dignity, self-esteem, and confidence.”
Download/read the policy paper: “Effective Approaches to Addressing the Intersection of Violence against Women and HIV/AIDS.”