Leadership and Participation
Women living with HIV and their organizations are often excluded from decisions that guide policies and programmes on HIV. Their right to participate is not upheld, and their potential contributions of leadership and perspectives on the epidemic are lost. Addressing HIV requires actions on all fronts, and will only be effective when women’s roles and priorities, as determined by them, are fully integrated in all aspects of decision-making.
UN Women supports organizations of women living with HIV—including caregivers—to articulate common agendas, define solutions that better respond to their priorities, and participate more fully in responses to HIV and AIDS. We help them cultivate leadership skills, and engage in reviews of national HIV strategies, laws and policies. Identifying gender gaps informs advocacy for improved quality of and access to services and greater resources. By strengthening networks, women can sustain concerted advocacy for public policies that protect their rights—and their lives.
With UN Women’s support, Kenya’s first national leadership conference for women living with HIV took place in 2011. Convening more than 200 participants, it helped women mobilize around a common national advocacy agenda to translate political commitments into scaled-up actions and resources to prevent new HIV infections, and address the rights and needs of women and girls. Follow-up advocacy meetings with Kenya’s National AIDS Control Council and the National Network of People Living with HIV resulted in earmarked grant funds for women living with HIV under the Total War Against HIV and AIDS Project, a USD 115 million initiative supported by The World Bank.
Our assistance to Rwandan organizations of women living with HIV helped them successfully negotiate with policymakers to integrate stigma and discrimination issues in the National Accelerated Plan for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV 2010–2014. In addition, they reached a strategic agreement with the Rwanda National Network of People Living with HIV to restructure and include women at every level of the organization, starting with the Executive Board.
New leadership and advocacy capacities at the Cambodian Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS have bolstered its engagement with the National AIDS Authority and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. For the first time, women living with HIV participated in national consultations to formulate the 2011–2015 National Strategic Plan. The group’s national coordinator was also formally elected to the Country Coordinating Mechanism of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and became the only woman and the first woman living with HIV to be part of the official government delegation to the 2012 Asia and Pacific high-level intergovernmental meeting on progress on HIV and AIDS, setting a regional precedent.In Mozambique, UN Women, with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization, helped link 45 associations of women living with HIV and AIDS in 11 provinces, representing 3,000 members. Their exchanges resulted in agreement on a Women’s Charter spelling out local and national actions in eight areas, including reorienting public policies and budgets to reflect the concerns of women living with HIV, extending quality health and social services, and engaging women in policymaking. With the support of the Parliamentary Caucus of Prevention and Fight against HIV, women living with HIV plan to present the charter to the President of Parliament and key ministerial deputies. The charter not only represents their voices and priorities, but also could serve as an instrument to hold the Government and donor community accountable for progress in responding to their concerns.