Since the emergence of HIV and AIDS over 3 decades ago the percentage of people who are diagnosed with HIV who are girls and women has increased globally making this the most the ‘feminized disease yet’ resulting in a HIV epidemic in which more women than men are living with HIV.
Women continue to account for a growing proportion of HIV infections for instance in 2015 new HIV infections were reported at 1.9 million globally. Of these 900,000 or 47% were women and girls.
Adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24 years account for 60 percent of all people living with HIV aged 15-24 years. In Sub-Saharan Africa, young women aged 15-24 are as much as eight times more likely than men to be HIV positive.
Studies conducted over time have consistently showed a co-relation between violence and HIV infection as well as occurrence of Violence because of HIV infection. The most affected being women and girls globally.
Commencing on the 25th November 2016 which is the International day for the Elimination of violence Against Women to the 10th December which is International Human Rights Day; The 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence campaign is a time to promote actions and amply our voices in calling for an end to violence against women and girls around the world.
The International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) joins stakeholders and women around the world to advocate for increased commitments and investment in actions to end violence against women from household to the highest levels.
We recognize only too well from our lived experiences the impact of gender based violence and intimate partner violence, increasing the vulnerabilities of women and girls to HIV acquisition as well as its influence on uptake and retention to HIV prevention and treatment options for women and girls living with HIV.
ICW fortifies our commitment to advocate for consistent empowerment and respect of rights for women living with HIV in all our diversity including our sisters who do sex work, our sisters who use drugs and our sisters who are transgender, lesbian, bisexual, queer women and from Indigenous communities.
We extend and intensify our commitment to support participation and engagement of women living with HIV in advocacy efforts aimed at calling for full participation;monitoring and evaluation that holds leaders accountable for effective implementation of country level plans to achieve the ambitious targets set under the Global Goals and the UNAIDS fast track strategy.
We demand that Governments and policy makers acknowledge that the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) will only be realized if women and girls have access to education and are empowered to contribute to decision making in matters affecting the political, social, economic, environmental aspects of the community in an environment that is free from violence, intimidation and legal environment that continues to stifle our growth and influence.
We urge different policy makers and stakeholders to commit to the following;-
- Ensure Universal access to education for all women and girls.
- End all forms of Discrimination.
- Eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in public and private spheres.
- Ensure women’s 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 rights.
- Adopt and strengthen sound policies for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.
Join ICW in calling on our governments, policy makers and all other stakeholders to make visible actions that respect gender equality and human rights by investing more resources to end violence against women and girls.
NOTHING FOR US WITHOUT US!
 UNAIDS HIV Prevention Report, 2016