Global norms and standards
A number of internationally agreed norms and standards relate to women and HIV and AIDS. Among the most prominent are:
- The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action calls for the involvement of women in HIV/AIDS policies and programmes; the review and amendment of laws that contribute to women’s vulnerability to HIV and AIDS and implementation of legislation, policies and practices to protect women and girls from HIV/AIDS-related discrimination; and the strengthening of national capacity to create and improve gender-sensitive policies and programmes on HIV/AIDS.
- The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its General Recommendations contain important substantive provisions for advancing gender equality. They equip states parties with tools to promote the full realization of women’s human rights, including in developing gender-sensitive national responses to HIV/AIDS.
- Millennium Development Goal 6 aimed to halt and reverse the spread of HIV by 2015. The world met and exceeded these targets by achieving a 35-per-cent reduction in new infection rates, a 41-per-cent decrease in AIDS-related deaths, and 15 million people on antiretroviral treatment.
- Building on the Millennium Development Goals, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seek to end poverty by 2030 and promote social development, economic prosperity, and environmental protection for all. Goal 3 aims to ensure healthy lives and well-being, with a target to end AIDS by 2030. Goal 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. These goals, along with all others, are critical roadmaps to address the cross-cutting gender inequalities in the HIV epidemic.
- The 2001 UN General Assembly declaration of commitment on HIV/AIDS stressed that gender equality and women’s empowerment were fundamental elements in the reduction of the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV/AIDS. The 2006 Political declaration on HIV/AIDS recognized that the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment and the protection of the rights of the girl child must be key components of any comprehensive strategy to combat the epidemic. In the 2011 Political declaration on HIV/AIDS: Intensifying our efforts to eliminate HIV/AIDS, UN Member States pledged to increase the capacity of women and adolescent girls to protect themselves from the risk of HIV infection, and to take all necessary measures to create an enabling environment for empowering women. In the 2016 Political declaration on HIV and AIDS: On the fast-track to accelerate the fight against HIV and to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030, UN Member States made firm commitments to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls as part of the efforts to end AIDS by 2030. The Declaration calls upon the Member States to implement gender-responsive national HIV strategic plans, promote women’s leadership and engagement in the HIV response, address intersections of HIV, violence against women and harmful practices, and protect women’s sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. The Declaration includes a specific focus and target to reduce new HIV infections in adolescent girls and young women.
- Human Rights Council resolutions on the protection of human rights in the context of HIV and AIDS include resolution 16/28. Adopted in 2011, it stresses ensuring the availability, accessibility and affordability of medicines and health care services for HIV-positive pregnant women. It also calls for establishing or expanding gender-sensitive national HIV/AIDS policies and programmes.
- UN Security Council resolution 1983 from 2011 notes the disproportionate burden of HIV and AIDS on women. It urges Member States, UN entities, international financial institutions and other relevant stakeholders to support national health systems and civil society networks in assisting women living with or affected by HIV in conflict and post-conflict situations. Security Council resolution 1308, adopted in 2000, addresses the HIV and AIDS–related responsibilities of international peacekeeping operations.
- The UN Commission on the Status of Women has passed resolutions on women, the girl child, and HIV and AIDS, including resolution 60/2 in 2016. It has issued agreed conclusions on the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV and AIDS in 2009, and on women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS in 2001.