This international Women’s Day 2017, The International Community of Women living with HIV (ICW) celebrates all our sisters, partners and allies who continue to speak up for gender equality and transformation in HIV policy development and programing and commit to partnerships and engagements that respond to the gendered needs within the HIV response.
In 2015 UNAIDS reported there were an estimated 17.8 million women living with HIV Globally constituting 51 per cent of all persons 15 years and older living with HIV; and an estimated 2.3 million adolescent girls and young women living with HIV constituting 60 per cent of all young people living with HIV (15-24). Additionally of the 1.9 million total new HIV infections 900,000 or 47 per cent were among women and 58 per cent of new HIV infections among young persons aged 15-24. Studies also show that special groups of women are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS. Globally, female sex workers are approximately 14 times more likely to acquire HIV than fellow women of reproductive age. While HIV prevalence among women who inject drugs was 13 per cent compared with 9 per cent among men who inject drugs.
Violence against women, social cultural practices like childhood marriages, lack of access to education, property or income; and lack of adequate information and access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights both at community and institutional level continue to expose women and girls to adverse effects of the HIV epidemic.
It is time for bold action towards making the world equitably safe for realization of healthy and quality lives for all of us.It is for this reason that ICW is calling for everyone to take bold steps either individually, as a community or as an institution to join partnerships that promote and sustain gender equality for women and girls in all aspects of our lives.
ICW asks Governments, development partners and stakeholders to increase efforts aimed at realizing the targets set under Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development goals. In Particular we ask that;-
- Governments and stakeholders put in place mechanisms to end all forms of discrimination against women and girls living with HIV everywhere and eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls at all levels.
- Governments and stakeholders to eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation which continue to put women and girls at risk of adverse health effects including HIV acquisition.
- Governments and stakeholders to jointly ensure women’s and girls’ full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.
- Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.
- Strengthen efforts to ensure women and girls have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to education, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws to promote women empowerment.
- Develop and implement responsive policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.
ICW believes the achievement of the ambitious global goals will only be realized with an inclusive and supportive environment for women’s empowerment and for gender equality. We know that to achieve this, all stakeholders need to develop innovative partnership models that boldly step away from our usual ‘comfort zones’ to begin to tap into our issues and identity specific strengths and opportunities.
ICW remains committed to working together, to making bold and innovative steps to ensure women and girls living with HIV in all our diversity live free of gender oppression, realizing and claiming our sexual reproductive, legal, social, economic and health rights.
ICW is #boldforchange
 UNAIDS 2016, The Global AIDS Report