Men and women should share equal responsibility for preventing HIV/AIDS and providing treatment to people living with the diseases, Ng Yen Yen -- Malaysian minister for women, family and community development -- said last week at the 53rd Session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, Bernama Daily Malaysian News reports. According to Ng, the percentage of new HIV/AIDS cases in Malaysia that occur among women has increased from 1.2% in 1990 to 16.4% in 2007. In addition, most HIV-positive women in the country contract the virus from their husbands, Ng said.
According to Ng, it is "important that both men and women take equal responsibility in preventing the spread of HIV among women." She added that "it is crucial that in the intersection of care-giving and HIV/AIDS, women are given the utmost support" because the "role of care-giving in many societies often falls upon women." Ng said that it is important to increase HIV/AIDS awareness among men in Malaysia so that they can become "involved in shouldering their responsibility in care-giving" for people living with HIV (Bernama Daily Malaysian News, 3/5). In addition, men and women should share equal responsibility for promoting safer sex, she said.
According to Ng, gender stereotypes pose significant challenges to equal responsibility and the advancement of women. She added that policymakers often encounter difficulty discussing stereotypes and implementing initiatives to address the issue. Ng said that "chipping away long-held biases and ways of thinking require strenuous efforts. But the outcome is worthwhile and the international community should not shirk from this" (Malaysia National News/Bernama, 3/4). Ng added that gender equality also can contribute to Malaysia's development at both the family level and the wider community and political levels. According to Ng, the Malaysian government "places the utmost importance on gender equality and Malaysian women have made significant progress in various fields, such as in the education, health and economic sectors" (Bernama Daily Malaysian News, 3/5).
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