Why W4GF?

Women4GlobalFund (W4GF) brings together women’s rights advocates, especially women living with HIV, and directly affected by TB and malaria — to advance gender equality through the Global Fund. W4GF mobilises women in all their diversity to ensure that the world’s most important finance mechanism for the HIV, TB and malaria supports programmes that meet the rights and needs of women and girls.

W4GF is not an organisation – it is a movement.

W4GF is a space to mobilise action so that Global Fund resources go where they are most needed and where they can change lives. W4GF is designed to make sure that diverse voices are central to the conversation about what the Global Fund does, and where the money can have the greatest impact in our communities.

In 2013, the Global Fund was in an exciting phase of transformation. W4GF worked to ensure that gender equality was central to these transitions, and that women meaningful participated in key decisions, in particular around the new funding model (NFM). The Gender Equality Strategy (GES) and its action plan committed the Global Fund to supporting gender-sensitive and transformative programmes that address the underlying vulnerabilities faced by women, girls and key affected women including transgender women, sex workers, and women who use drugs. 

W4GF has played a key role to ensure that achieving gender equality was elevated to a key strategic objective in the new Global Fund Strategy 2017 – 2022 Investing to End Epidemics. This means adjusting systems, policies and approaches so that all Global Fund levels and processes are grounded in meaningful participation of diverse women, to have the greatest impact on HIV, TB and malaria, and to know what this impact is by ensuring results are disaggregated and tracked by age and gender. Those of us who started W4GF hope to live in a world where no woman or girl is marginalised and women – in all their diversity – are able to access the services and treatment they need.

This website (www.women4gf.org) and a Facebook page have been developed to secure an interactive space for women, girls, Trans* and men who support gender equality and want to engage with the Global Fund to make sure that programmes on HIV, TB and malaria are gender transformative.

Herstory

In 2013, The first phase of organising was supported by the Secretariat of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and facilitated by AIDS Strategy, Advocacy and Policy (ASAP Ltd) 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.

This was led by Ms Robin Gorna who co-created W4GF. 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, ASAP, had been hired by the Global Fund secretariat in 2011 to review the implementation of the Global Fund’s 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. 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.

In 2013, ASAP organised a series of funded workshops, and also undertook secretariat work to support the ongoing work of W4GF. The first W4GF workshop was held in July 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland, co-organised with the ATHENA network and supported by the Communities Delegation to the Board of the Global Fund. After this workshop, ASAP established a virtual secretariat to support the ongoing work of W4GF on a pro bono basis.

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. In March 2018 – W4GF migrated to ICW Global as its new administrative partner under a new grant provided by ViiV Healthcare.

W4GF 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 (bios below), 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.

 

Ms Robin Gorna

Ms Robin Gorna

Co-Founder

Ms Robin Gorna started her work on AIDS in 1986 and has had a strong focus on women and children’s health since the onset, including authoring one of the first ever books on women and AIDS in the early 1980s: Vamps, Virgins and Victims: How can women Fight AIDS? Her earliest work was with the Terrence Higgins Trust, and she was subsequently the Executive Director of Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations (AFAO). At AFAO, she set up an important programme on AIDS in the Asia and Pacific region, and was co-chair of the International Conference on AIDS in the Asia and Pacific (ICAAP) in 2001, as well as co-chairing the International AIDS Conference in 1996, and serving as the Executive Director of the International AIDS Society (IAS) from 2009 – 2010. She established the Global AIDS Policy Team at the Department for International Development (DfID) – playing a key role in establishing the Universal Access agreement, the Global Task Team (GTT) on Improving AIDS Coordination Among Multilateral Institutions and International Donors, and the UNAIDS Three Ones, and as a member of the UK-Austrlia Delegation to the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; before moving to Pretoria where she led the HIV and Health programme in DfID’s Southern Africa office from 2006 – 2009. In 2010, Robin established a community-based consultancy – AIDS Strategy, Advocacy and Policy (ASAP Ltd), and oversaw and directed all of the projects, many of which related to the Global Fund and Gender Equality. She was instrumental in the creation and support of W4GF in 2013 and the securing of core funding from ViiV Healthcare to establish the W4GF Secretariat in 2015. Robin has since served as the Executive Director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) in 2015 and 2016, and co-authored and published articles including in the Lancet.

Ms Rachel Ong

Ms Rachel Ong

Global Coordinator 2015 - Aug 2016

Ms Rachel Ong holds a Masters in Public Administration and has worked as the Communications Focal Point with the Communities Delegation on the Board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria since May 2009, and was a member of the Finance, Operational and Performance Committee (FOPC) from 2014 – 2016. Rachel has been involved in regional and international advocacy and policy work since 2000, and is also currently the Steering Committee Member of Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN), and Special Advisor of GFAN Asia-Pacific (GFAN AP). In her different capacities and roles since 1999 as the Chair of the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+); Co-Chair of the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (APN+); Project Coordinator at Positive Art Workshop (PAW) in Beijing, China; and Asia Pacific NGO Delegation Member on the UNAIDS Coordinating Board, Rachel has extensive experiences working with community and civil society networks/organisations at the country, regional and international level, as well as with aid agencies, donors and governments. Rachel was a co-founder of W4GF in 2013 and the establishment of the W4GF Secretariat, and was its Global Coordinator from Jan 2015 through August 2016.