UNIFEM at AIDS 2008

UNIFEM is organizing or co-organizing the following events during the XVII International AIDS Conference:

From Acknowledgement to Action: The Intersections between Violence against Women and AIDS
Sunday 3 August 2008, 1:30–3:30 p.m.
Location: Centro Banamex, SBR 6
Violence against women is both a cause and a consequence of HIV prevalence among women. The threat of violence is one manifestation of gender inequality that can also carry with it the threat of HIV; a number of studies show that the risk of HIV is significantly higher in women who have experienced violence than among those who have not. Where there is stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS, fear of violence may prevent women from accessing information, discourages them from getting tested and from disclosing their HIV status, and also may represent an obstacle to receiving treatment and counselling. As women are key to the response to the epidemics, examining the intersections of HIV/AIDS and violence against women is a necessary element in promoting and coordinating the comprehensive approach and specific interventions to reverse the epidemic. This session will highlight programmatic learning, evidence-based advocacy strategies, and strategic policy interventions to address the intersections of violence against women and HIV/AIDS as part of a comprehensive approach to reversing both epidemics.
         UNIFEM Executive Director Inés Alberdi will co-chair the session with UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Obaid, who will be joined by Anand Grover, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health; Mary Ellsberg, PATH; Victor Ortiz, El Colegio de Michoacan; Dinys Luciano, Development Connections; Dean Peacock, Sonke Gender Justice; and Neelanjana Mukhia, Women Won’t Wait: End HIV and VAW Campaign, who will be a discussant. (Organized by UNIFEM and UNFPA with UNDP.)

Financing and Resourcing Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in the Context of HIV and AIDS
Sunday 3 August 2008, 3:45–5:45 p.m.
Location: Centro Banamex, SR 8
Given that in many regions of the world HIV and AIDS disproportionately affects women and girls, all responses must invest in changing social, cultural and economic factors that put women and girls at risk. The extent to which specific manifestations of gender inequality is addressed as part of the total response to HIV is unclear. Although women's organisations and grassroots groups have been responding to HIV and AIDS, recent reports indicate challenges in accessing sustainable resources for their work. Yet, financing women's empowerment and gender equality is essential to reversing the impact of the HIV pandemic. Investing in women and girls includes allocating flexible and adequate funds to organisations that reach women and girls, providing them with appropriate services and ensuring they have equal opportunities. This event will focus on the architecture of funding for women's organisations and address the challenges and opportunities in financing gender equality and women's empowerment in the context of HIV and AIDS.
         Inés Alberdi, Executive Director, UNIFEM, will make opening remarks together with Susan Brennan, President, World YWCA. The session will be moderated by Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary, World YWCA. The discussion will include short presentations from Kousalya Periasamy, Founding Member of the Positive Women's Network (PWN+); Zonny Woods, Ford Foundation; Lydia Alpizar Duran, Executive Director, Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID); and Neelanjana Mukhia, International Women's Rights Policy and Campaign Coordinator, Action Aid International Secretariat Women Won't Wait. (Organized by UNIFEM and World YWCA.)

Securing Women and Children's Property Rights in the Era of HIV/AIDS
Sunday 3 August 2008, 3:45–5:45 p.m.
Location: Centro Banamex, SBR 1
In some countries highly affected by HIV and AIDS, the premature death of a male head of household can mean that surviving widows and their children are at risk of losing their land, houses and other assets by family members grabbing their property. Forced off the land that represents often their only source of income and livelihood, women are at risk of homelessness, acute food insecurity and poverty. Property rights to land, livestock and other agrarian resources are critical to the livelihoods of rural men, women and children. Insecure property rights perpetuate gender inequalities, livelihood insecurity and poverty. Thus, secure property rights is central in the effort to address gender inequalities, poverty, vulnerability and sustainable development in general. Through this satellite session, co-hosted by UN agencies, NGOS and research institutes, we hope to better communicate what we know about the issue and share some successful initiatives that are addressing the problem to a larger audience including policy makers and donors.
         Esther Mwaura of GROOTS Kenya will chair the panel. The discussion will include short presentations from Kaori Izumi, FAO; Elizabeth Mataka, United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa; and Violet Shivutse, Groots Kenya. (Organized by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, UNIFEM, UNDP, Huairou Commission, IFPRI, Grootskenya.)

From Commitment to Action: Implementing Effective Responses on Gender and AIDS
Monday 4 August 2008, 6:30–8:30 p.m.
Location: Centro Banamex, SR 5
This session will bring together AIDS and gender experts and practitioners from different regions and sectors to address the intersection between gender and AIDS and explore experiences in advancing gender equality and empowering women through national AIDS responses. Government and civil society best practices will be highlighted, in addition to opportunities and challenges in scaling up programming and funding for gender action. Discussion topics will include approaches for assessing and understanding how HIV differentially affects females and males to strengthen national response efforts, and strategies for supporting and empowering HIV-positive women and men, women's groups, and marginalized communities to effectively engage in AIDS decision-making, planning and implementation processes. The session will consider the need for implementation of dedicated action on gender and AIDS, alongside mainstreaming of gender perspectives in AIDS interventions. In addition, the session will address opportunities for linking action on AIDS with broader action on gender equality by forging partnerships between people and institutions working on AIDS, and people and institutions working on gender. Speakers will address the concept of “knowing your epidemic” in gender terms, and the need to match AIDS responses to the gender-profile of national and local epidemics.
         Kristan Schoultz, Director of the Global Coalition on AIDS, and Rebeca Grynspan, Director, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, UNDP will provide opening remarks. The discussion will include short presentations from Juan Jacobo Hernández, Colectivo Sol, Mexico; Gary Barker, Executive Director, Instituto Promundo, Brazil; Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary, World YWCA; Kousalya Periasamy, President, Positive Women’s Network (PWN+), India; and Fatma Mrisho, Executive Chairman, Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS). (Organized by UNDP with UNAIDS and UNIFEM.)

Macroeconomic Policies and the Feminization of the AIDS Epidemic: Discussion and Highlights of Film “Now or Never”
Tuesday 5 August 2008, 6:30–8:30 p.m.
Location: Centro Banamex, SBR 4
For the first time, globalization and HIV/AIDS is a cross-cutting theme of the International AIDS Conference, creating a unique opportunity to spotlight macroeconomic policy and the feminization of the epidemic. Discussion of the feminization of the epidemic is not limited to prevalence rates, but also refers to how women bear a disproportionate impact of the AIDS pandemic. Gender-responsive economic policies may play a central role in addressing this burden as well as in reducing women’s vulnerability to HIV/AIDS. This session will present a panel discussion on the social and economic costs borne by women when health systems break down due to macroeconomic stabilization and various structural policies. The discussion will also focus on how it is imperative that policies support women’s economic independence, access to and control over resources including their right to property and inheritance, their ability to protect themselves from HIV infection, violence against women and HIV, and the delivery of social services in a manner that mitigates the impact of AIDS on women and girls. The session will also visually spotlight these issues through highlights of a film by the award-winning international director Moussa Sene Absa.
         Yassine Fall, UNIFEM Economic Advisor, will chair the panel and introduce the film. The discussion will include a Q&A session with Amaranta Gómez, activist from Oaxaca, Mexico; Philomene Njantu, Gender-Based Violence Officer, African Women's Millennium Initiative on Poverty and Human Rights (AWOMI); Kousalya Periasamy, President of Positive Women Network, India; and Ester Seehama of International Community of Women Living with HIV, Namibia. (Organized by UNIFEM and UNDP.)

Women Take the Lead
Wednesday 6 August 2008, 2:30–4:00 p.m.
Location: Centro Banamex, SR 7
UNIFEM will present the results of a review of women’s participation and leadership in the national AIDS response.  The abstract submitted, “Strategies and Opportunities to Meaningfully Advance the Leadership and Participation of HIV Positive Women,” authored by N. Damji and T. Crone, presents an assessment of the level and quality of participation by women most affected by the epidemic. The findings and recommendations from the review will be released in a two-page brochure during this session.

More Event Information

For details on these and many other activities organized during the conference to put gender equality and women’s rights at the centre of the response to the epidemic, see: