Notes from W4GF Webinar on the 1st Partnership Forum

A webinar was organised and hosted by W4GF on the 3rd June 2015 for W4GF advocates and partners to share experiences and thoughts from the participation at the Global Fund 1st Partnership Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; as well as to inform participants that would be attending the 2nd Partnership Forum. The webinar was attended by 13 participants, and 2 Global Fund Secretariat Staff. For more information about the purpose of the Global Fund Partnership Forums, please click here.

The webinar agenda covered the following:
1. Reflections from the Global Fund Secretariat
2. Reflections from W4GF advocates that attended the 1st Partnership Forum

3. Questions and discussions from Webinar participants not at the PF
4. Next steps and actions.


1. Global Fund Secretariat Update

The Global Fund Secretariat provided a brief summary of the 1st Partnership Forum held in Addis Ababa on the 7 & 8 May  2015 with the following key points, for more detail, please refer to the slide deck above.

  • The 1st Partnership Forum was attended by approximately 140 diverse stakeholders with different relationships with the Global Fund. Approximately 140 diverse stakeholders attended from Africa (excluding North Africa who will attend the Bangkok forum) to solicit input around the new Global Fund Strategy 2017 – 2021.
  • Key themes that the Partnership Forum organised around included:
    • Gender
    • Human rights and Key Populations
    • Health Systems Strengthening (HSS)
    • Community Systems Strengthening (CSS)
    • Challenging Operating Environments (COE)
    • Priorities for the three diseases
    • The Funding Model
  • A two-day pre-meeting of communities and civil society was convened by the CRG Department on the 5 & 6 May with approximately 30 civil society members, a speaker was identified to speak at the Partnership Forum from this group of participants.
    • The communities and civil society pre meeting saw participants well-prepared with high-level strategic and clear thinking and engagement, with the W4GF & ICW Advocacy Brief setting the tone for the Global Fund’s work and focuses necessary around gender, and more specifically around women and girls, and that the engagement of W4GF was appreciated.
    • On gender – there was consensus (including amongst major donors) that gender equality, and especially for women and girls, need to have a higher priority in the next strategy. What needs to be clarified would be the strategic actions for the Global Fund to ensure that gender equality is achieved as an outcome in countries, and gender transformative programming will be included in the concept notes and grant making and successfully implemented in countries. This would need activities and measurements to be collectively identified.
    • While human rights will remain a key strategic priority, more work is required to ensure human rights based approaches, programming and tracking (including refining key performance indicators) are well-resourced.
    • There is more work that needs to be articulated to ensure that the needs and health outcomes of key affected women can be specifically addressed.
    • CSS is not understood by many stakeholders, and thus while advocacy efforts should continue, it is important to ensure understanding that HSS and CSS are equally important with a need to articulate what communities contribute towards HSS and CSS, as they are inherently different.
    • A potential area of contention would be around transitioning – with strong sentiment from donors to the Global Fund that it should significantly diminish its investments in upper middle-income-countries.


2. Reflections from W4GF advocates that attended the 1st Partnership Forum
The following thoughts and reflections were shared by participants – Ms Maurine Murenga, Ms Sophie Dilmitis, whom attended the 1st Partnership Forum:

(a) General Feedback:

  • The Communities and Civil Society Pre-Meeting was a great learning opportunity for many and to engage with the Global Fund as a global body for the first time, and not just at the national level. Many realised that national level processes needed to be strengthened and robust mechanisms in place to work better for communities and civil society.
  • There was diverse communities and civil society representation, and strong solidarity at the Partnership Forum. Communities and Civil Society recognised that the Global Fund is a great institution with strong allies internally – within the Secretariat and at the Board level.

(b) Gender Equality, and women and girls:

  • The W4GF & ICW Advocacy Brief was well received and supported by many women’s rights advocates.
  • In side meetings with key Global Fund colleagues, there was a request to W4GF for clear direction, simple communications, and real life stories from communities of women and girls. W4GF will be following this up with the Global Fund Secretariat.
  • Even though there was good momentum around advocating on issues affecting women and girls, there were still many who did not understand gender and the impacts of gender dynamics at the national level. There were governments who are part of the Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCMs) that were saying, “… but we have programmes on PMTCT, so what is all the fuss about?” The clear challenge would be to ensure that we translate this momentum into country level commitments and actions.
  • There needs to be links between gender equality and malaria responses, for more specific data is missing to be able to address the gap in an evidence-informed manner.
  • There was a clear gap amongst the participants at the Partnership Forum in the understanding of what CSS entails beyond service delivery, and there was a clear need to define this, and more specifically what it means for programmes and interventions for communities and networks/organisations of women and girls.

(c) Human Rights and Key Populations:

  • Moving forward there is a need to tease out the issues on human rights from key populations, so that the messaging does not get lost – for human rights cuts across all three diseases and all populations, communities, and vulnerable groups.

(d) Recommendations for the 2nd Partnership Forum, Bangkok, Thailand (24 – 25 June 2015)

  • It is recommended that in the main Partnership Forum, that the facilitation in the working groups needed to be strengthened. The Global Fund Secretariat received this feedback and will be looking to strengthen the facilitation, including organising a one day meeting prior to prepare workshop facilitators, as well as Global Fund staff that are attending as resource people.
  • During the final plenary at the 1st Partnership Forum, there was no space or time allotted towards communities and civil society to respond to the final presentations, although time was requested. This would be helpful to close the feedback loop to ensure that suggestions and concerns of communities and civl society was thoroughly considered.

(e) Recommendations to participants at the 2nd Partnership Forum, Bangkok, Thailand (24 – 25 June 2015):

  • Side Meetings, including with the Global Fund Chair and others – Communities and civil society need to be better organised and prepared in the side meetings to clearly define the agenda and set the tone of the meeting. Demands need to be clear so that they do not get lost with the flow of the meeting(s). It is understood that the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board will be attending the 2nd Partnership Forum, and the CRG department will be working with communities and civil society to organise these discussions and maximise the outcomes of the meetings.
  • Key Messages – The key messages that were developed in the communities and civil society pre-meeting were not fully utilised during the main meeting. Participants should be able to base arguments on the key messages that were composed when engaging in working group discussions.
  • Preparation – It is essential to read all the documentation that is sent to participants ahead of the Partnership Forum. For example, issues on Challenging Operating Environments (COEs) are new and not many were not clear what this was about. i.e. was this about countries that are struggling with Ebola, or are we talking about countries where communities are criminalised? It was noted that the Global Fund still has to define COEs more explicitly.
  • Organisation, unity and strategy of civil society – The other two Partnership Forums should try to ensure that different pre meetings do not happen in parallel (eg. the Stop TB meeting coincided with the communities and civil society pre-meeting) and if they do, that there is some kind of space for all civil society to meet – even if only for a few hours to share strategy and thinking. A challenge in Addis Ababa was that there were many pre meetings and this meant that some civil society did not have access to the key messages that had been created.


3. Questions and discussions from Webinar participants not at the PF

  • Community Systems Strengthening (CSS) – CSS will likely continue to be a challenge and/or an area of tension when discussed alongside Health Systems Strengthening (HSS) at the next Partnership Forum. The Global Fund Secretariat is taking steps to address this by presenting to the Strategy, Impact and Investment Committee (SIIC) at the 15th SIIC Meeting a paper that will clarify the critical role of CSS.
    • Civil Society at the 1st Partnership Forum discussed drafting a CSS statement – One strategy is to start the discussion around impact and work toward the funding of Communities and Civil Society in CSS, by shifting the narrative to CSS and the impact it could have on the epidemics. There is evidence and consensus that CSS is important and there is a need to invest in community-based responses, accountability, monitoring, legislative and policy environments, and the support for advocacy. 
    • The Strategy and success depends on how CSS will be defined in the next Strategy, and once this is clear advocacy can begin. Although CSS intersects with HSS these must remain distinct. One strategy is to link CSS to health outcomes particularly in the Global Fund and we will need to speak to these catalytic impact(s).
  • Challenging Operating Environments (COEs) – In COEs, communities deliver the majority of programmes as there are health systems are typically weak, and there is a critical opportunity here that community systems and responses are respected from the outset. 
    • We need to find case studies that community interventions have a high impact to support our CSS case.
  • Partnership Forum report – The Global Fund will share results/reports of the 1st Partnership Forum with those going to the 2nd Partnership Forum. The Partnership Forums will build on each other even though different regional perspectives and concerns will be shared at each Partnership Forum. Other important statements and analysis will be shared with those attending the Partnership Forum – for example that of the human rights reference group and the Communities Delegation and Global Fund Advocates Network Asia-Pacific  (GFAN AP) Consultation.
  • Participation within the main Partnership Forum – There was space for a community representative, identified at the pre-meeting, to speak at the opening of the Partnership Forum, and this will be a constant with all Partnership Forums. 
  • Participation across HIV, Tuberculosis and malaria – There was a gap around civil society representing malaria and Tuberculosis – the messaging could have been stronger. For the 2nd Partnership Forum, the Global Fund is going to bring in additional people through targeted invitations to attend the pre meeting to make sure a greater presence of Tuberculosis and Malaria communities and for stronger messaging about those community needs can be reflected. The Global Fund will be meeting with Stop TB Partnership to have a separate side meeting and to progress how the Global Fund better engage.


4. Next Steps 

W4GF will be fine tuning the Advocacy Brief in preparation for the 2nd Partnership Forum, so that the concerns and issues articulated at the 1st Partnership Forum in Addis Ababa are integrated, and this will again be translated into French. The Advocacy Brief will also be translated into Russian and Spanish in time for the 3rd Partnership Forum.

W4GF asked that if participants on the call would  like to be included in the W4GF working group on Global Fund Strategy Development, to please contact Sophie Dilmitis ( and also to continue the discussions on the W4GF website and Facebook page.

Slides from the 1st Partnership Forum from the gender, key populations and human rights working group are available on the W4GF website in English and French.

The webinar was hosted by the W4GF Secretariat – Ms Rachel Ong (Global Coordinator) and Ms Sophie Dilmitis (Programme Coordinator); and attended by 11 participants – Ms Marama Pala (Māori, Indigenous, & South Pacific HIV & AIDS Foundation, New Zealand), Ms Marian Munyinda (Zambia NGO Coordinating Council, Zambia), Mr Martin-Mary Falana (Kids & Teens Resource Centre, Nigeria), Dr Megan Dunbar (Pangaea Global AIDS, USA), Ms Olena Stryzhak (Ukraine), Ms Sakunthala Mapa (International Planned Parenthood Federation, UK), Ms Ting Ting Shen (Asia Catalyst, China), Ms Zelda Nhlabatsi (Family Life Association of Swaziland, Swaziland), Ms Sian Maseko (OXFAM, Zimbabwe), Ms Shobha Shukla (Citizen News Service, India), and Muarine Murenga (International Community of Women living with HIV (ICW), Kenya). Resource people from the Community, Rights and Gender (CRG) department from the Global Fund Secretariat included Mr David Traynor (Advisor to the CRG Department), and Ms Motoko Seko (Gender Advisor).
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