Gender comprises widely held beliefs, expectations, customs and practices within a society that define ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ attributes, behaviours and roles and responsibilities. Gender is an integral factor in determining an individual’s vulnerability to HIV infection, his or her ability to access care, support or treatment, and the ability to cope when infected or affected by HIV.
Gender norms, for example, often dictate that women and girls should be ignorant and passive about sex, leaving them unable to negotiate safer sex or access appropriate services. Gender norms in many societies also reinforce a belief that men should seek multiple sexual partners, take risks and be self-reliant. These norms work against prevention messages that support fidelity and other protection measures from HIV infection. Some notions of masculinity also condone violence against women, which has a direct link to HIV vulnerability, and homophobia, which results in stigmatisation of men who have sex with men, making these men more likely to hide their sexual behaviour and less likely to access HIV services. (See "Women and Girls" and "Men who have sex with men" for more specific information on the impact of gender inequality on vulnerability to HIV).
Gender inequality both fuels and intensifies the impact of the HIV epidemic and is most effectively addressed on the national and community level. In the context of HIV prevention, treatment, care and mitigation, this reinforces the need for interventions that are directed at individual people. Reducing gender inequality requires changing social norms, attitudes and behaviours through a comprehensive set of policies and strategies.
At the 2006 High Level Meeting on AIDS, all member states of the United Nations have pledged “ to eliminate gender inequalities, gender-based abuse and violence” and to “increase the capacity of women and adolescent girls to protect themselves from the risk of HIV infection, principally through the provision of health care and services, including, inter alia, sexual and reproductive health, and the provision of full access to comprehensive information and education.”
Furthermore, as part of the same resolution, all member states of the United Nations have also pledged to “ensure that women can exercise their right to have control over, and decide freely and responsibly on, matters related to their sexuality in order to increase their ability to protect themselves from HIV infection, including their sexual and reproductive health… and to take all necessary measures to create an enabling environment for the empowerment of women and strengthen their economic independence; and in this context, reiterate the importance of the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality.
Priority actions to address gender inequalities
Top leadership at every level of society must speak out against stigma, discrimination, gender inequality and women’s empowerment
Laws and policies that protect women and girls against sexual violence, disinheritance and gender discrimination of all kinds, including harmful traditional practices and sexual violence in and outside of marriage must be enacted, publicized and enforced.
Women must be adequately represented in policy-and decision-making on AIDS.
Laws and policies that directly address gender inequality and bias against people perceived to be at heightened risk for HIV, including sex workers and men who have sex with men, must be enacted and enforced.
Changes in laws and policies must be accompanied by adequately funded “know your rights and social mobilization campaigns against gender inequality and HIV related stigma and discrimination; the campaigns should involve organizations of people living with HIV along with all other elements of civil society in their planning and implementation.
- GCWA aims to support Governments to:
- Enact and enforce legislation, policies and programmes that protect the rights of women and girls in terms of gender equality and freedom from violence.
- Expand access to sexual and reproductive health care programmes and integrate HIV into these.
- Promote campaigns and community dialogue to change harmful gender norms, engage men and boys and eliminate violence against women and girls.
- Keep girls in schools and make schools free of sexual violence and exploitation.
- Implement economic empowerment schemes for women, including women care-givers.
- Implement social support programmes for care-givers and orphans, which also engage men and transform care-giving roles.
- Build the capacity of women’s organisations and gender equality organizations as key partners in the development of national AIDS strategies.
- Incorporate gender dimensions into monitoring and evaluation activities, ensuring that data is disaggregated by sex, age and marital status
The latest from the GCWA
24 May, 2013|
Positioning Gender Equality and HIV as cornerstones of the Post-2015 United Nations Development Agenda
Positioning Gender Equality and HIV as cornerstones of the Post-2015 United
20 Sep, 2012|
Women, HIV and Harm Reduction (RU)
21 Jun, 2012|
Dear Advocates and Allies - women and men, Universal Access to Female Condoms (UAFC) Joint Programme, in collaboration with CHANGE and other excellent partners, is preparing to set a new record in the Guinness Book of World Records at the International AIDS Conference in July. We are creating a Paper Doll chain made up of individual messages in support of female condoms to disprove, once and for all, the myth that people don’t want female condoms. To succeed, we must get 28,000 paper dolls completed.
12 Jun, 2012|
Infographic on Women and AIDS
7 Jun, 2012|
1. Women of the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV: Positive and Pregnant: How Dare You? A study on acces to reproductive and maternal health care for women living with HIV in Asia To read the document click here 2. International Treatment Preparedness Coalition and Interntional Community of Women Living with HIV, Asia-Pacific The Long Walk: Ensuring Access to Comprehensive Care for Women and Families to End Vertical Tranmission of HIV To read the document click here
6 Jun, 2012|
Donor Brief: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria
2 Apr, 2012|
US government travel restrictions for sex workers mean that many of us will not be able, orwill not want to go to the IAC in Washington this year. The Sex Worker Freedom Festival is an alternative event for sex workers and our allies to protest our exclusion and ensure the voices of those excluded are heard in Washington.
27 Mar, 2012|
This information note seeks to provide our membership with key information about the upcoming CPD. To access the document, please click here: GCWA-Conference-on-Population-and-Development-info.pdf If you have questions or would like more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
7 Mar, 2012|
GCWA International Women's Day Statement 2012
7 Mar, 2012|
On International Women’s Day 2012 the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS (GCWA), calls on its members, as well as all United Nations agencies, governments and donors to intensify efforts to engage and empower girls and young women living with and affected by HIV. This is urgent because: Every minute a young woman, between the ages of 15 to 24 becomes infected with HIV. Globally, young women aged 15-24, are most vulnerable to HIV with infection rates twice as high as in young men. HIV is the leading cause of death of women of reproductive age. Women and girls ofte