Women4GlobalFund (W4GF) organised a session in the Women’s Networking Zone on 22 July 2016 at AIDS 2016 moderated by Ms Rachel Ong, W4GF Global Coordinator.

Speakers included:

  • Ms Heather Doyle, Senior Coordinator, Gender, Global Fund Secretariat
  • Mr Ralf Jürgens, Senior Coordinator Human Rights, Global Fund Secretariat
  • Ms Talent Jumo, Katswe Sistahood, Zimbabwe

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The new Global Fund Strategy (2017 – 2022) was introduced by Heather Doyle:

  • The Global Fund is a USD$13 billion finance institution that supports programming around HIV, TB and malaria of which 30% goes to Health Systems Strengthening (HSS), which includes Community Systems Strengthening (CSS)
  • Gender equality is now part of a key objective in the new Global Fund Strategy (2017 – 2022) as “Promoting and Protecting Human Rights and Gender Equality”, but prior to this the Gender Equality Strategy (GES) and its Action Plan that was approved by the Global Fund Board in 2008 and 2009 had no way to measure its implementation and effectiveness. The Global Fund will now be investing in gender equality more concretely as part of the new Strategy, and is reviewing the process for this.
  • The Global Fund is aware of how challenging it is for communities to engage and that this has been especially hard for women’s groups.
  • The Global Fund will focus on scaling up programmes for women and girls in 13 countries in Africa and address gender- and age-related disparities as well as looking at gender related data around TB.
  • Human rights has been a key area for the Global Fund since 2012 but this has focused on accountability mechanisms – making sure that none of the money supported human rights violations. Human rights programmes and services especially for key populations and women must be scaled up. As such the Global Fund will be leveraging 7 key programmes to reduce stigma and discrimination. These have been costed but not implemented, and in some cases, these are more important for women than for men and include:
    • Stigma and discrimination reduction
    • HIV-related legal services
    • Monitoring and reforming laws, regulations and policies relating to HIV
    • Legal Literacy (“know your rights”)
    • Sensitization of law-makers and law enforcement agents
    • Training for health care providers on human rights and medical ethics related to HIV
    • Reducing discrimination against women in the context of HIV
  • The Global Fund continues to think through what programming might look like for TB and integrating human rights in the grant making process.

Talent Jumbo shared her experience as a member of the CCM in Zimbabwe and raised issues around:

  • Lack of knowledge of the Global Fund: “As a woman working actively with affected communities we have experienced the Global Fund mostly from a distance – not many can tell you what the Global Fund is even though the Global Fund supports so much in Zimbabwe and this is due to the lack of community engagement”
  • Lack of consultation: The limited consultation comes with little commitment. Efforts are made to advertise in newspapers but most cannot afford to buy newspapers and even if they do turn up the timeframes are tight and the issues are not explored deeply. Technocrats only ask questions they want answers to and this does not allow people to fully engage and make demands based on their needs. Those of us on the CCMs lack support to adequately consult constituencies’ pre or post CCM meetings. Organisations need time having to have relaxed conversations in a safe environment to effectively engage in national processes but the process is linear. We receive registration forms, which are a requirement of CCMs, meaningful community engagement is sorely lacking.
  • Lack of capacity: Civil society capacity is limited as are support system for those at decision-making tables. Women and key populations are not supported to dialogue and have capacity gaps to articulate the issues and solutions. People just expect sex workers to turn up but they have no capacity to mobilise and coordinate.
  • Lack of accountability: CCM budgets are huge but women receive little of this and yet many times money is not absorbed and civil society continue to deal with barriers to prevention.

Ralf Jürgens discussed human rights in relation to the Global Fund Strategy (2017 – 2022)

  • The Global Fund is not a human rights institution but understands that human rights violations and gender related barriers creates challenges in accessing services and treatment, and partly why the Global Fund could achieve greater impact if these issues are addressed as part of its programming.
  • Around women and girls, the Global Fund is selecting a number of countries where implemented programmes must be taken to scale and where programmes have been evaluated to make an impact but not sufficiently evaluated to show long-term gains.
  • The country teams (based in Geneva) differ. All country teams just been trained on gender and address different needs around gender and human rights. The Global Fund is focusing on human rights in 15 countries that require larger support.
  • The CRG Department is working closely with the Grants Management Division and Fund Portfolio Managers and providing training(s) and support to ensure that they have knowledge on human rights and gender equality to roll out and implement the new Global Fund Strategy.

Discussion

  • The Global Fund responded by saying that many people in this conference have shared similar experiences of Talent’s. Admittedly, the Global Fund has not adequately invested in prevention efforts and in women’s and adolescent groups, and now is the time to reach groups with unmet needs. This is not only the Global Fund’s challenge but something everyone is struggling with in the AIDS response, including bilaterals and other multilaterals and donors. If we are going to scale up this work, we would need to work with different women’s groups in the next strategy.
  • The current funding model now has country dialogues, which are needed. Whilst the CCM can have difficult dynamics that makes it challenging for communities and civil society voices to be heard. The Global Fund Secretariat is struggling with this issue to make CCMs and country dialogues more accessibly and is considering earmarking 25% of the CCM budget for CCM dialogues. The Global Fund CRG Department was allocated US$15 million as part of the special initiative (SI) of 2014 – 2016 that provides technical assistance (TA) to do just this and but the Global Fund needs to do more to ensure that this pot of money is accessible in the next allocation. If the Global Fund Board decides to keep the SI on CRG TA, more must be done to get that financial support to groups for participation.
  • The Global Fund is starting to address the intersections of gender and malaria and have set up a working group to address gender and human rights in malaria but these are new conversation and the Global Fund has committed to producing an information note on this
  • Regarding TB, the Global Fund secretariat has been working on the indicators and again are focusing on a subset of countries and the differences between men and women, but in the Southern African there are increasing and large rates of coinfections amongst women with TB and HIV and this is all going to look very different – there is a need to understand the gender related barriers in each context and have countries analyse the sex and age disaggregated data.
  • Many small networks are emerging – especially from young women and they do not have audited reports from three years back which is often a requirements to access funding and the Global Fund is aware that new networks need support and that core funding needs to go to organisations to strengthen to the work.
  • Civil society did an assessment (2014 – 2015) to see if money was actually reaching women’s groups and it was not. This has not changed and women are not heard so how do we make sure that women’s organisations get the funding needed to do the work? The Global Fund assigned 80 million dollars to working with young women and girls and civil society should be monitoring where that money is going. The Global Fund must ensure that as it transitions out of countries they leave responses stronger and with sustainable funding. “The Global Fund is very good at mobilising money for women and then we fail in the implementation”. This is not only a Global Fund problem but a collective one. If the SI is to continue we must think about how we can do this differently. We have an opportunity right now to look at issues around participation and how the Global Fund ensure community based organisations access funding and how the Global Fund can manage smaller grants.
  • Funding must go to women’s organisations to represent themselves – and this includes women from key populations. One suggestion was to have a specific indicator that reviews how many key population led organisations accessing money.
  • Definitions around key populations differ and often women are not able to access funding because of this.

The new strategy focuses on the areas that the Global Fund did not do well enough in the past – Every decisions has ramifications but these will only be seen in the next three years. There will be a need  to demystify the Global Fund policies and processes so that everything is not so complicated. Traction will be seen if communities and civil society are able to engage independently of governments. Civil society monitoring is essential, but the question is should the Global Fund fund this or are other donors best placed to?