Keeping gender equality as a central priority in the next Global Fund Strategy (2023-2028)

In July 2021 at a Global Fund Extraordinary Board Meeting (EBM) the Strategy Framework 2023-2028 was approved. This includes a standalone objective on maximising health equity, gender equality and human rights.  See the approved strategy Framework here.

The narrative of the Strategy Framework 2023 – 2028 was circulated confidentially on 1 September for Board constituency review and input.  Any input is to be submitted to the Global Fund on 10 September 2021.

The sections below tell you how we got here…..

1. The Partnership Forums

On 1 February, ahead of the Partnership Forum opening, civil society and community representatives released a Statement from the three pre-meetings held in late January.

On 2 February, the Global Fund’s three Partnership Forums, kicked off virtually as a series of collaborative, multi-partner consultations to help shape the next multi-year Global Fund Strategy (2023-2028). 

  • Eastern Europe and Latin America, 9-11 February; 
  • Africa and parts of the Middle East and North Africa, 17-19 February; and 
  • Asia, the Pacific and parts of the Middle East and North Africa, 3-5 March.

From 2 February to 15 March 2021, 350 stakeholders engaged in the Partnership Forums from across the Global Fund partnership, through a mix of 31 plenaries, 66 Topic Booths and more than 130 breakout group discussions. Participants contributed their input on how the Global Fund can catalyse greater impact against HIV, TB and malaria and contribute to greater health overall, as set out in Sustainable Development Goal 3. 

The Global Closing on the 15 March reconvened participants to consolidate recommendations from across the three regional Partnership Forums and contextualize them in the evolving global context. The recording of the event can be viewed on the Partnership Forums and on the Strategy Development webpage.

2. Women4GlobalFund Strategy Development Working group

W4GF has set up a working group to keep gender equality as a central priority in the next Global Fund Strategy (2023-2028). The group includes 64 people from 31 countries who are highly engaged and stand ready to work closely with the Global Fund on the 2023–2028 Strategy development, hoping to have as close a working relationship with the Global Fund team as we did on the last Strategy development process (2017-2022). 

Our own observations and experiences, as W4GF Advocates, at country level align with the findings of the Technical Review Panel (TRP) report of from Window 1 – that gender equality was the weakest aspect of the most recent Global Fund proposals. They stated: “Of particular concern were the areas of addressing gender-related barriers to service, where only 44% of funding requests in Window 1 were assessed as good or very good (versus 56% in the 2017-2019 cycle)”.

Recommendations from the W4GF Strategy Working Group

The W4GF Strategy Working Group Advocacy Brief presents priorities and key recommendations to be included in the forthcoming Global Fund Strategy 2023-2028. W4GF is committed to supporting the Global Fund, to ensure that the right processes and programmes are accelerated to make a real difference to women in all our diversity throughout our lives, and to achieve the impact and results that are central to the Global Fund’s mission. 

W4GF called on the Global Fund Board to accelerate action to make a difference for women and girls, and to ensure the following priorities are central to the new Strategy:

  • Sharpen the commitment to gender equality 
  • Support sexual and reproductive health and rights 
  • Require women-centred and community-led data collection, monitoring and evaluation 
  • Invest in our communities for programmes and advocacy
  • Meaningfully engage us at all levels of decision making.

As part of this work we included the UNAIDS strategy in our work given that the Global Fund’s Strategy is aligned to existing international targets from partners such as UNAIDS among others. Click here to see what was submitted to UNAIDS much of which is now reflected in the approved Global AIDS Staretgy 2021 – 2026

Advocacy updates:

  • On 14 July W4GF sent a statement to the Global Fund Board ahead of the 22 July Extraordinary Board Meeting to approve the Strategic Framework for 2023-2028.
  • On 18 March 2021 W4GF sent a statement Global Fund’s Strategy Committee ahead of their meeting on 25 – 26 March 2021 to review progress on Strategic Objective (SO) 3 as well as the outcomes of the Partnership Forums and the Strategic Framework.

3. What should you be reading to help you to advocate?

If you participated in one or more of the Partnership Forums and are continuing your advocacy, we suggest you take note of the following documents developed by other key networks so that you can amplify these key messages. 

  • Asia-Pacific Communities and Civil Society Statement – The Global Fund That We Still Want You can find this and more here outlining how you can engage if you are from Asia and the Pacific. 
  • The Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) has prepared an excellent crib sheet to support advocates attending the Partnership Forums. If you would like to know more about this, please contact Mick Matthews, NSWP Senior Programme Officer
  • Joint input from key affected communities and civil society from CEECA region (Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia): Joint input into Strategy development
  • RBM Partnership to End Malaria position on the next Global Fund Strategy can be found on the RBM Partnership website in EnglishFrench, and Spanish.
  • United for Global Mental Health has an open letter directed to the Global Fund’s Strategy Committee
  • The Developing Country NGO released a statement following the 45th Board Meeting where they advocated for communities, human rights and gender equality to be at the centre of the Global Fund’s work.

The Global Fund Advocates Network (GFAN) has collated key information through a dedicated section on the new Strategy and developed a regularly updated summary of top-level priority areas for civil society and communities based on inputs from around the world (including from W4GF). GFAN have also recently created a toolkit to supporting advocacy as this process moves forward – check this out here.