Hosted by AIDS Strategy, Advocacy and Policy (ASAP Ltd), W4GF was created in 2013 and has grown to be a dynamic and global platform of over 400 women and gender equality advocates who who share a deep commitment to ensuring that Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) funded programmes are gender- transformative to meet the rights and specific needs of women and girls in all their diversity, and to ensure that resources and processes advance gender equality in an accountable, transparent, and inclusive manner.

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From left: Sophie Dilmitis and Rachel Ong

From 1st September 2016, Ms Rachel Ong will step down from her role as W4GF Global Coordinator to focus on her positions as the Communications Focal Point of the Communities Delegation to the Board of the Global Fund, and Special Advisor of Global Fund Advocates Network Asia-Pacific (GFAN AP). Ms Sophie Dilmitis will assume responsibility for coordinating and leading the W4GF Secretariat in close collaboration with the W4GF Advisory Group who will continue to provide expertise, support and guidance to the work of W4GF.

With support from ViiV Healthcare, W4GF established a formal Secretariat in December 2014 under the leadership of Ms Rachel Ong, W4GF Coordinator, and was joined by Ms Sophie Dilmitis, W4GF Programme Officer, in March 2015. W4GF has since been further supported to carry out specific projects by the Global Fund, the Stop TB Partnership, and the Communities Delegation to the Board of the Global Fund.

Over the last three years, W4GF’s projects and activities have included a broad range of support to community and civil society advocates advancing gender equality in Global Fund related processes at the country, regional and global levels. Key highlights include:

  • Increased knowledge and capacity of gender equality advocates on Global Fund processes as a result of two workshops: 1) W4GF Workshop Strengthening and Integrating TB & Malaria within the HIV Gender Response, Harare, Zimbabwe, 5th – 8th December 2016. 2) W4GF Global Workshop Supporting Gender Equality and Human Rights Champions in Global Fund Country Processes, Bangkok, Thailand, 28th June – 1st July 2016.
  • Strengthened partnership with the International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW Global) through joint policy statements during the 2015 Global Fund Partnership Forums to strengthen and increase the Global Fund’s focus and investment in women and girls. Efforts by advocates from W4GF, ICW, and the Communities Delegation amongst others, resulted in gender equality being prioritised for the first time in the history of the Global Fund in the Global Fund Strategy 2017 – 2022: Investing to End Epidemics.
  • Engagement in policy discussions and decisions on the Strategic Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Framework 2017 – 2022 to ensure gender equality indicators also included TB and malaria, and were not only for HIV. Advocacy by W4GF and partners resulted in the Global Fund Secretariat working closely with the Stop TB Partnership in exploring and developing gender equality related TB indicators.
  • Engagement with communities and civil society working on gender equality at AIDS 2016 in Durban, South Africa, through two sessions held in the Global Village. One session focused on increasing the advocacy by women’s organisations for Global Fund Replenishment needs; and a second session focused on the operationalization of human rights and gender equality in the new Global Fund Strategy 2017 – 2022.

“When I took over W4GF, it was unimaginable that the efforts of W4GF would result in the inclusion of gender equality in the new Global Fund Strategy 2017 – 2022. This would not have been accomplished without the synergies and partnerships built with ICW and W4GF advocates that created the change needed at the Global Fund Board and Secretariat level to ensure that more investments are driven towards gender equality and gender transformative programming,” said Ms Rachel Ong. “I could not be more grateful for the combined efforts of partners, friends and colleagues whom have supported W4GF during my tenure and am confident that Sophie Dilmitis will continue the exciting work in her new role.”

Ms Sophie Dilmitis joined ASAP Ltd in 2012 as an Associate, and was instrumental in providing support to W4GF’s formation with almost two decades of pioneering grassroots work, and policy development focusing on women and young people in developing and developed countries. Born in Zimbabwe and living with HIV for the past 22 years, she advocates for policies and programmes that work for women in all their diversity and programmes that integrate sexual and reproductive health and rights with HIV. Sophie founded the Choose Life Trust in Harare, and worked for the World YWCA in Geneva, Switzerland from 2006 to 2011. Her other experiences include engagement on the Conference Coordinating Committee for the International AIDS Conferences of 2008 and 2010, the European Regional Representative on the Board of ICW from 2007 – 2009, Technical Advisory Group Member of the Commission on HIV and the Law from 2010 – 2012, and International Steering Committee Member of the Robert Carr Network Fund from 2012 to 2016.