Notes from W4GF Webinar on the 3rd Partnership Forum

A webinar was organised and hosted by W4GF on September 29, 2015 for W4GF advocates and partners to debrief on the third and final Partnership Forum in Buenos Aires Argentina held on 2 – 3 September 2015.

Six participants, and two Global Fund Secretariat staff attended the webinar. For more information about the purpose of the Global Fund Partnership Forums, please click here. The webinar agenda covered the following:

  • Reflections from the Global Fund Secretariat
  • Analysis of the key issues on gender, women and girls from the pre-meeting and the Partnership Forum (PF)
  • Questions and discussions from Webinar participants not at the PF
  • Next steps and actions

Discussion (The webinar presentations from the Global Fund Secretariat can be found here)

1.    Overview of the civil society Pre-Meeting & Partnership Forum Agenda (including role of communities & civil society during Partnership Forum)

The Global Fund Secretariat updated on pre-meetings convened – such as the Community and Civil Society Pre-Meeting; the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) Constituency Meeting; the Stop TB Global Plan Consultation and the Parliamentarians Meeting.

The two-day pre-meeting for civil society and communities created space for civil society to learn as much as they can about the Strategy – sharing across the regions how issues being discussed around the Strategy directly impact communities. The pre-meeting and Partnership Forum was influenced by, and built on extensive consultation already conducted by regional actors (e.g.: Communities Delegation and EHRN Community and Civil Society Consultation, Moldova, held in July 2015, and the Latin America & Caribbean Regional Survey etc).

The pre-meeting had approximately 70 participants (about 50 of which attended the Partnership Forum) which included different constituencies from key populations including women living with HIV, advocates from HIV, TB and malaria, gender advocates, human rights actors, youth representatives all from the Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Of the 120 participants at the 3rd Partnership Forum, a greater proportion of participants (compared to the 1st and 2nd Partnership Forums) came from community and civil society.

The Partnership Forum was structured through plenary and breakout groups around the Strategy areas, which are:

  • Gender
  • Human rights and Key Populations
  • Health Systems Strengthening
  • Community Systems Strengthening
  • Challenging Operating Environments
  • Priorities for the three diseases
  • The Funding Model

A key learning from the previous Partnership Forum(s) was to work with regional and community stakeholders, and prompted the Global Fund to convene an advisory group from the LAC region and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) to support the planning of the civil society Pre-Meeting.

2.    Global Fund Secretariat (CRG Department) Reflections

Consistent with previous Partnership Forums and all other GF held/organised consultations, the theme of “Leave No One Behind” and that the “GF should remain Global and focused on people not ‘countries” was clear. Given regional challenges the pre meeting and the Partnership Forum focused on a key topic of Sustainability and Transition. This was a very high priority for participants, and all themes discussed related to issues on sustainability and transitioning.

Strong recommendations were made, including to:

  • Elevate sustainability and transitioning to a stand alone objective in the new Strategy instead of being a sub-objective where it is currently positioned.
  • Include meaningful and robust participation of communities at all levels to influence how transition occurs.
  • Develop systems to effectively assess when countries are ready to transition
  • Ensure that broad socio economic contexts must be conducive to the continuation and investment in evidence and human rights based responses that support key populations. This would include domestic environments being encouraging to the most effective community responses particularly for key populations.
  • Strengthen the capacity of civil society for advocacy and policy dialogue, including in the countries that are no longer eligible for Global Fund investment based on the current eligibility criteria.
  • Develop dedicated funding channels for community systems in countries that are in the process of transition, or have completed transition, with a particular focus on key populations.

Discussion on gender did not feature as much as a stand-alone topic as it did in previous Partnership Forums – perhaps associated with these particular regions and their priorities. However, the gender dimension within transition and sustainability was recognised as critical to be responded to – which was brought up by trans-men and women that attended the meeting. Discussion and recommendations put forward around gender were consistent with those put forward at the first and second Partnership Forums with included to:

  • Invest in gender-transformative processes and responses to the three diseases
  • Increase investments to grass roots groups that provide critical services and that advocate for the rights of women in all their diversity and expressions, to build their capacity and ensure that they are part of the sustainable response
  • Invest in a gendered response to health strategies, in order to maximise investments that address gender-related barriers to services.

Other key points around gender included:

  • Gender being discussed as a concept and that any Global Fund Framework must recognise gender in its entirety and diversity – especially for transgender communities
  • Recognition across all Partnership Forums that the new Strategy should have gender equality as a stand alone objective, but the more important priority and challenge will be in how this is operationalised and what KPIs are set.
  • A need to strengthen skills in the Global Fund Secretariat around gender especially in grant management where 75% of Global Fund staff work in managing grants.
  • All rights-based work must have a gender equality lens and dimension.

3.    Participant Reflections from the 3rd Partnership Forum

Participants shared the following thoughts and reflections:

(a)    Gender Equality, and women and girls:

  • Although there was good representation from women’s groups and transgender networks, gender did not feature as strongly as in other Partnership Forum. This could have been only in specific working groups – and as this Partnership Forum really focused on transition and middle income and gender was there in background.
  • The revised language in the Framework around women and girls is encouraging but what can W4GF be doing to advocate for better Key performance indicators (KPIs) that raise the benchmark? The Global Fund has had much discussion on what is a robust indicator might look like to measure change and impact. The Gender Division at the Global Fund are commissioning work right now to do this and develop at the top level KPIs for the framework.  Different options being explored and there is a lot of talk around this. KPI development and approval process continues into November 2016 and there are hopes that a strong KPI will be adopted. This has to be feasible to access to data to make it work and must also relate to human rights.  The current roadmap that outlines all Global Fund process relating to the new Strategy can be accessed here.
  • The discussion around Universal Health Coverage is very important as Christoph Ben presented this to civil society as a gear up towards the replenishment process and he talked about a “People centred approach” – the role of communities as opposed to strengthening health systems and this could be an opportunity.  
  • Not many civil society have though through the next stage and now that we are nearing the end of the process we need to have internal and external discussions on all KPIs. 

(b)   Gender and Transition and Sustainability

  • Gender – linking human rights is a cross-cutting issues and needs to be incentivized within the transition and sustainability discussion. The Global Fund recognised that this has not been central to discussions on transition and sustainability, and could be included under the falling away of male centred services (primary care and private settings) where men are less likely to access services because of the transitioning. This has never been discussed and looked into by detailed evidence but the Secretariat also needs to look into this.
  • W4GF/GFAN AP/APCASO may have a chance to join the speakers’ panel for the UNAIDS PCB meeting at the end of October where the theme is HIV financing. It is already very apparent that sustainability and transitioning will be central to the discussions, including for community and civil society advocacy messaging. We must all be on guard to ensure gender dimensions of transitioning and sustainability are taken up in the PCB discussions so thanks for the input/sharing reflections on the Buenos Aires Partnership Forum.
  • RD from APCASO requested any Global Fund targeted advocacy message to be brought into the PCB meeting, perhaps directed to the Global Fund Board, to help with civil society advocacy around the Replenishment?

We are on track to have a strong strategy but we need to ensure that we have adequate resources for all of this work – especially around gender and women and girls.

The webinar was hosted by the W4GF Secretariat – Ms Rachel Ong (Global Coordinator) and Ms Sophie Dilmitis (Programme Coordinator); and attended by 4 participants – Ms Olimbi Hoxhaj (Albanian Network of people living with HIV – and Board member for European AIDS treatment group), Ms Rodelyn Marte (Asia Pacific Council of AIDS Service Organizations (APCASO) Thailand), Raoul Fransen-dos Santos (International Civil Society Support), Susan Perez (AIDS Strategy, Advocacy and Policy, India) and from the Global Fund Secretariat included Mr David Traynor (Advisor on policy and strategy to the CRG Department), and Ms Motoko Seko (Gender Advisor).

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