Make Women Central in World Strategy to Fight HIV/AIDS
The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has just released a five-point Call for Action to make women central to every strategy in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
"There is a direct correlation between women's low status, the violation of their human rights, and HIV transmission," said Noeleen Heyzer, executive director of the Fund, in announcing the Call for Action. "This is not simply a matter of social justice. Gender inequality is fatal."
"The reason that AIDS has escalated into a pandemic is because inequality between women and men continues to be pervasive and persistent," she continued. "Too often, women and girls cannot say 'no' to unwanted and unprotected sex without fear of reprisal."
She pointed out that last year 1.3 million women died of AIDS, that nearly half of all new HIV infections occur in women, that teenage girls in Sub-Saharan Africa are five times more likely to be infected than boys, and that surveys in 17 countries found that over half of girls could not name a method of protection against HIV transmission.
"It is time for the AIDS community to join hands with the international women's community to hold governments accountable," she said as she laid out strategies in the Call for Action to challenge the pandemic.
Call for Action
UNIFEM has worked to mainstream gender within the United Nations system and to promote gender equality, women's development, and human rights in developing countries. UNAIDS has signed a cooperation agreement with UNIFEM to help strengthen the gender perspective in the United Nation's response to the pandemic.
For more information, visit the UNIFEM Web page on HIV/AIDS at www.unifem.undp.org/hiv_aids/.
This article was provided by Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. It is a part of the publication SIECUS Report.