The Future of Female Leadership in the HIV/AIDS Movement, Part 2
June 8, 2012
Naina Khanna: PWN has been working to forge an intersectional agenda addressing HIV, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and violence against women. We have gained some traction, particularly as it relates to the intersection between violence against women and HIV. See the recently formed federal interagency workgroup as an example, and PACHA's recent resolution on women and HIV. However we continue to struggle to achieve meaningful commitments to moving a collaborative women's advocacy agenda on these three related issues. Some of this may be due to stigma, some due to a perception of the HIV community having a disproportionate amount of resources, and some related to the race/class issues I raised earlier.
But dove[tailing] on what Marsha was talking about: Change and agency I was just thinking about a process that we helped catalyze and create around the United Nations high-level meeting on AIDS in 2011. And by recognizing that women weren't involved in the regional consultations that U.N. AIDS were organizing sufficiently, and that women should be able to speak to the U.N. process with their own voice, and with their own priorities, created a virtual process with regional focal points.
And what was amazing is this tiny, little process that we had really moved mountains. We had over a thousand women participate in this online survey, and women doing focus groups and doing what Marsha referenced a minute ago -- bringing from different experiences so there's more to draw from, and there's more to move with.
We ended up launching the action agenda that stems from that on the eve of the high-level meeting on AIDS at the U.N. It was the only session that was by women, about women, with predominantly women on the panel. And we had heads of state endorsing it and recognizing it. We had Alicia Keys and Annie Lennox sitting up there with young feminist women living with HIV from around the world. And we saw language and priorities. While, granted, it didn't have targets; it didn't have some of the teeth that we'd like to see, we actually saw the language shift in this one political declaration.
And so I think to take women speaking from their own experience, and to see movement in a U.N. document is still far from women's everyday reality, it was exciting. I think for the women involved to see that they were part of something bigger and part of something, yeah, that they could share, regardless of their walk of life, and with their multiple political identities.
Kellee Terrell: And so, final question. Are you all optimistic about the future?
Naina Khanna: Absolutely! We have the science to turn the tide on the epidemic. We have the knowledge and understanding to compassionately and professionally provide a high standard of care to people living with HIV. We have some promising data on women-controlled prevention options. Now it's up to all of us to secure the resources and participate in advocacy to make human rights, access to care and treatment, and prevention for all a reality.
Marsha Jones: You know, on one hand, I feel a little discouraged about some things. But on the other hand, I do see the light at the end of the tunnel. I mean, you know, it's dim; it's a crack right now. But I do see a little light. And I can see another opportunity, where we can start to develop younger women. And for that, I am excited, because I keep seeing more and more women saying, "I am not going to take this anymore." And with that, we are seeing more change.
E. Tyler Crone: At the end of the day, when one finds the way or, you know, when women create ways for other women to come together and share our strengths, big change can come about. And you see that: despite the odds, women making tremendous change and being incredible leaders. And this whole point of agency -- I think agency is key. We're agents of change, not just recipients of services.
Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
Follow Kellee on Twitter: @kelleent.
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