Although there is growing commitment to address the gender equality aspects of the HIV epidemic, considerable gaps remain between aspirations and actions. With women largely on the margins of decision-making, HIV plans and policies fall short in responding to the needs and rights of women and girls. This hinders the development of adequate programmes and budgets, which, in turn, hampers women from reaching prevention, treatment, care and support services.
A further challenge comes when national planning bodies lack technical expertise and tools to conduct gender analysis of HIV and prioritize gender dimensions. They need capacities to collect data disaggregated by sex and age, and to report on specific gender equality indicators to track and evaluate the effectiveness of HIV interventions.
UN Women supports national governments and civil society groups to integrate gender equality into national HIV/AIDS plans, programmes, budgets, and monitoring and evaluation systems. We also assist in strengthening the integration of HIV and AIDS in national policies and action plans on issues such as gender equality, gender-based violence, legal empowerment, and stigma and discrimination, particularly in highly affected countries.
In our partnerships with national AIDS coordinating authorities, we provide gender analysis and assessments of HIV plans and programmes, and help strengthen in-house gender expertise. We aid in developing staff capacities to integrate gender equality into planning both in these bodies and in national ministries.
A gender audit helped Cambodia’s National AIDS Authority and Ministry of Women's Affairs define key advocacy points to promote the integration of gender across the 2011–2015 National Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS. Spousal transmission of HIV, for example, is now a priority issue. In Sudan, UN Women joined UNAIDS in informing the Sudan National AIDS Control Programme about gender dimensions, resulting in the adoption of a variety of related measures in the Sudan National AIDS Strategic Plan 2010–2014. Rwanda has introduced a gender budget statement to guide adequate resource allocations for women in HIV-related policies and programmes.
In Jamaica, UN Women helped prepare women leaders living with HIV to attend a 2011 national meeting of high-level policymakers on stigma, discrimination and gender issues in HIV/AIDS. The meeting concluded with the signing of the Declaration of Commitment to Eliminate Stigma, Discrimination and Gender Inequality, the first agreement of its type in the Caribbean region. As a follow up, we trained women advocates to engage in consultations on the draft National HIV Strategic Plan 2012–2017. It now includes a series of measures on gender equality and human rights, such as to train social service workers on identifying and addressing links between HIV and gender-based violence.
UN Women and UNAIDS work together to help countries better understand gender-related drivers of HIV and to identify tailored responses, including by investing in research and the collection of evidence. In 2012, we assisted in convening a consultation on HIV transmission among intimate partners of members of high-risk populations for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Representatives of national governments and civil society organizations, including of key groups of affected women and girls, agreed on recommendations
to help achieve the ASEAN goal of reducing sexual transmission of HIV by 50 per cent by 2015.