We write to share news about administrative changes at Women4GlobalFund (W4GF). As of March 2018 W4GF has transitioned to the International Community of Women Living With HIV (ICW Global) as its new administrative partner. Please read on to know more about the details, our herstory and our future.

Where are we now?
2018 is a significant year for W4GF as it marks its fifth year since its inception as a global movement of advocates concerned about how the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) responds to gender inequality. W4GF as a network has evolved into a dynamic, global platform of women and gender equality advocates. W4GF is made up of advocates who are dedicated to achieving the greatest impact in programmes and health systems that meet the rights and needs of women and girls in all our diversity. W4GF has been instrumental in:

  • Uniting women and strengthening capacity to meaningfully and consistently engage with the Global Fund and its processes. W4GF was integral to ensuring gender equality was prioritised as a key objective in the new Global Fund Strategy Investing to End Epidemics 2017 – 2022
  • Building bridges and sustaining a platform of organised women in all our diversity to focus on the Global Fund and influence global and national policy
  • Amplifying the voices of women working in implementing countries to advocate for Global Fund resources and processes that advance gender equality at all levels in accountable, transparent and inclusive ways
  • Advocating for funds to be channelled to women in communities.

We share a deep commitment to influencing and being a part of Global Fund funded programmes/services that deliver gender-sensitive and transformative services that are grounded in reality and work for women and girls in all our diversity.

Our journey
In 2013, Ms Robin Gorna co-created W4GF with other women and organisations (notably the ATHENA Network and the Communities Delegation to the Board of the Global Fund) to bring gender activists and the Global Fund closer together. Since her early work in the 1980s, Robin has been concerned about the inadequate engagement between organisations and actions focused on AIDS, women and gender equality. The consultancy group that Robin founded, AIDS Strategy, Advocacy and Policy (ASAP), had been hired by the Global Fund secretariat in 2011 to review the implementation of the Global Fund’s first ever Gender Equality Strategy (GES). Her team found that implementation was poor, and attention to gender within Global Fund processes was inadequate, and remarkably different to the attention being paid by community groups to the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Strategy, agreed by the Board at the same time as the GES. Rather than just deliver a report, Robin’s team led a process to kick start a movement that would mobilise women most affected by the three diseases, and other gender equality advocates, to engage actively with the Global Fund through its global processes as well as at national and regional level. From the outset, there was a strong commitment to meaningful engagement of women living with HIV, and other women (including transgender women) most directly affected by all three diseases. Given the connection with other projects ASAP was working on, as well as its origins, ASAP hosted W4GF since its inception. The original vision was that ASAP would be leveraged as a launching pad for W4GF until it was established and functioning well enough to move to an organisation grounded in community and that focuses on women.

W4GF would like to acknowledge the immense role and contribution made by Ms Robin Gorna, who co-created and steered W4GF through its earliest days, and also to Ms Rachel Ong, who engaged with W4GF from the outset and then built on the vision to ensure W4GF is where it stands today. We further salute the leadership of women in implementing countries who have been the bedrock of W4GF’s advocacy and continue to demand meaningful engagement in national processes to ensure impact – delivering essential services, grounded in reality and rights.

Sustaining the movement
W4GF was awarded its first grant from ViiV Healthcare for the period of December 1, 2014, through to November 30, 2015, to establish the W4GF Secretariat, governance/advisory structures, and to further strengthen the network of W4GF advocates, organisations and community networks seeking to engage with the Global Fund to ensure that programmes are gender sensitive and gender transformative with the implementation of the funding model. The second ViiV grant was awarded from December 14, 2016 and helped sustain efforts and continued to build on previous achievements and momentum.

All of these efforts and accomplishments were attained under the leadership of Ms Rachel Ong, W4GF Coordinator who became the Global Coordinator in the beginning of 2015. In March 2015, Ms Sophie Dilmitis was appointed as a Project Officer. It was during this period that W4GF was 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.

In August 2016 Sophie assumed the role of Global Coordinator and sustained the network’s virtual presence and provided support to W4GF advocates in implementing countries despite a funding gap in 2017.

Half a decade into its existence W4GF has seen transformation and growth through the extension of global partnerships. One such partnership is with ICW Global. ICW will serve as W4GF’s new administrative partner under a new grant provided by ViiV Healthcare. ICW Global was identified as a good fit for the next phase of W4GF’s work. ICW Global will provide W4GF with administrative support and W4GF will continue to autonomously have oversight and manage its relationships with women in all our diversity.

As W4GF migrates to ICW we are grateful and acknowledge the administrative and technical assistance provided by ASAP (now led by Ms Hilary Nkulu (Pretoria, South Africa) and Ms Susan Perez (Hanoi, Vietnam).

W4GF future
Now that the Global Fund’s Strategy is being implemented, W4GF advocates (in all their diversity) have engaged at national levels. Some have meaningfully participated in developing HIV, TB and malaria funding requests submitted to the Global Fund. Although W4GF has noted great improvement things are far from ideal in most countries – especially beyond the 13 priority countries able to access catalytic funding. Many women, especially from key and affected communities and populations and adolescent girls and young women (AGYW), continue to face barriers to meaningful participation.

W4GF’s presence and influence remains crucial given that the Global Fund is a financing institution without country presence. Strategic partnerships with women in countries remain critical to ensure impactful investment towards promoting and protecting human rights and gender equality. A key focus of work in 2018 and beyond will be to monitor progress and document successes and challenges with regard to the implementation of the Global Fund Strategy at the national level, towards promoting and protecting human rights and gender equality.

In order to achieve this, W4GF will create a toolkit for networks of women in all their diversity to monitor and track their own engagement in Global Fund processes, to effectively influence national processes, and ensure that countries take the right steps towards achieving gender equality and upholding human rights. This toolkit will take advocates through a process of reflection, action and advocacy to effectively demand that resources are dedicated to achieving the greatest impact in programmes and health systems that meet the rights and needs of women and girls in all their diversity. Whilst there are several toolkits already in use, this will be unique in that it will provide comprehensive tools to support advocates to effectively influence funding requests and ensure good health outcomes for women in all their diversity, including monitoring and remaining engaged (reporting successes and challenges) in priority interventions implemented with Global Fund and other resources at the national level.

The W4GF Secretariat
Ms Sophie Dilmitis (W4GF Global Coordinator) has two decades of pioneering grassroots work and top-level policy development focusing on women and young people in developing and developed countries. Born in Zimbabwe, Sophie has been living with HIV for 24 years and is a vocal advocate for policies and programmes that work for women in all their diversity and that integrate sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) with HIV. In 2001, Sophie founded Choose Life in Harare, and developed a comprehensive sexuality education and HIV awareness-training programme, implemented in 30 schools over five years, reaching more than 7,000 young people. Her weekly newspaper column, ‘Factor Positive’, on issues related to HIV and published in the Harare Sunday Mirror, won the Auxillia Chimusoro Award for excellence in media reporting. From 2006 – 2011, Sophie worked at the World YWCA, to develop and implement their Global Strategy on SRHR and HIV. In 2007 she convened a leadership summit for 300 women living with HIV from across the globe. The training package on SRHR and HIV that she developed for the World YWCA Regional Training Institutes was implemented in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, the Caribbean and in Europe, reaching over 50 YWCA Member Associations. Since 2012 Sophie has worked as a consultant on a variety of projects with substantial focus on the Global Fund’s response to gender. Sophie played a substantial role in supporting the inception of W4GF and joined the W4GF team in April 2015. Sophie Dilmitis can be reached at sophie@women4gf.org.

Ms Matipa Ndoro (W4GF Programme Officer) is a children’s rights activist and feminist with over ten years of experience advocating for the rights of women and exploited children. Matipa has an academic background in Labour Law and Organisational Psychology. Matipa has worked with girl children involved in child labour and human trafficking in South Africa, and conducted an array of capacity building and advocacy initiatives to respond to the need of survivors of human trafficking and child labour. Her experiences also involve working with migrant communities in Cape Town particularly supporting the sexual and reproductive health rights of migrant women. Matipa has worked with both local and regional entities such as the Networking HIV and AIDS community of South Africa (NACOSA) and more recently the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA) on various regional dialogues which include: The Promotion of rights based responses to working with law enforcement officials in curbing HIV/TB amongst Key Populations in Southern and East Africa and The Criminalisation of HIV where Matipa further co-facilitated the first African Women’s Dialogue on the Feminisation of HIV Criminalisation. Matipa brings extensive experience working with the girl child and women, and looks forward to engaging with W4GF, a robust network of women in all their diversity and gaining invaluable expertise from its global advocates of change.