NOW IS THE TIME!
Support women in communities: World AIDS Day 2019

World AIDS Day 2019 celebrates that communities make the difference. Today Women4GlobalFund (W4GF) celebrates W4GF Advocates who work hard in their communities and demand attention to the needs of women living with (& affected by) HIV, TB and malaria everywhere. Over the past five years brave W4GF Advocates have pressed for high quality, evidence based, properly funded programmes and services that work for women and girls, in the right locations, with communities and at the right scale.

We celebrate the W4GF Advocates living with and affected by HIV – many of whom – continue to face discrimination and the impact of patriarchy as they sit at decision making tables. We are inspired by the bravery and courage of W4GF Advocates from communities who have built their knowledge and claimed a seat at decision making tables; they are having increasing influence and impact on how the Global Fund works at national, regional and global levels.

We are at a crucial time in the HIV epidemic. This World AIDS Day we must double efforts to support women by prioritising gender equality! If there was ever a time to support women it is now. W4GF Advocates are now busy preparing to make sure that the $14 billion mobilised by the Global Fund reaches the needs and supports the rights of women and girls everywhere through the allocations that will begin in early 2020.

Every inch of ground made for women and girls has only been gained through the hard work of women who have come before us. Those women have enabled us to feel that the rights and privileges that some of us enjoy were always available. Today – many of these gains are at risk as some governments continue to backpedal on progress made. We saw this at the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)[1] earlier this year and at ICPD+25.[2]The voices of women in communities have been clear. For over 25 years we have called for our rights to be upheld and respected – and that our sexual and reproductive rights must be central and not divided from AIDS services and programmes.

As a global community, we know who is most at risk and how to reach people; we know who needs treatment and what works to prevent HIV. We also know that communities of women in countries are essential and that we must go beyond the biomedical to deliver gender transformative programmes that address underlying structural patterns that continue to feed gender and other inequalities. To succeed we need to ensure significant increases in international and domestic funding immediately, if the Global Fund will support countries to deliver on their global goal to end HIV by 2020.

Now is the time to:

  • Invest in community-led responses for women and girls as key to accelerating greater impact and strengthen funding requests to support prevention of violence and services for survivors;
  • Insist that countries report on a comprehensive data set that includes sex- and age- and gender disaggregated data on key indicators for the three diseases [The Technical Review Panel (TRP) asks that the Global Fund should require (not recommend) that such data be reported. Without this it is not possible to track implementation and needs, to ensure that gender-sensitive and gender-transformative activities are supported in Global Fund grants, and to raise awareness of gender-related concerns];
  • Ensure that all countries (not only the 13 countries that receive matching funds for adolescent girls and young women) address gender inequities: going beyond biomedical approaches to address gender-related risks, human rights abuses, and to remove all barriers that prevent women from accessing health services;
  • Continue to require governments – with guidance from the Global Fund secretariat, technical partners and the TRP – to ensure women-centred and human rights-based approaches that uphold the right to health as a fundamental principle;
  • Bring more focused allocation (as part of catalytic funding) to support women-led community networks and organisations responding to HIV, TB and malaria to engage in community based monitoring to collect community data on the development of baseline, quarterly, and end of programme evaluations that track the implementation of programmes for women and adolescent girls and young women in all our diversity. Now is the time to support a community research agenda driven and led by women and young women living with HIV, TB and malaria to ensure that Global Fund supported services and programmes remain on track to embrace, respect, and respond to our priorities, needs, choices, and rights.

As a global community of advocates, we draw strength on our diversity as we continue to work towards achieving gender equality and human rights through the Global Fund. Let this next Global Fund funding cycle 2020 – 2022 be the time that our collective efforts enable us to deliver for women and girls with adequate funding from donor governments as well as from our own governments. More than ever before, let us achieve critical and long-lasting breakthroughs to address pervasive violence, stigma and discrimination, in our homes, communities and at national levels. We have worked too hard to let the gains made slip through our fingers.

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[1] At the U.N., America Turns Back the Clock on Women’s Rights
[2] Joint Statement on the Nairobi Summit on the ICPD25

W4GF is a dynamic global platform of women and gender equality advocates who share a deep commitment to ensuring that Global Fund programmes are gender-transformative to meet the rights and specific priorities of women and girls in all our diversity. For more information, please contact Sophie Dilmitis, Global Coordinator, Women4GlobalFund (W4GF) – sophie@women4gf.org www.women4gf.org or https://www.facebook.com/women4globalfund/