FEATURED: UN Women pushes for gender-sensitive investment in efforts to fight HIV/AIDS

The Country Representative of UN Women in Rwanda, Fatou Lo, has called for more inclusion in tackling multifaceted obstructions that hamper HIV positive women from their various human rights.

She gave the remark as she opened a sideline session at of the 20th International Conference on AIDs and STDs in Africa 2019 (ICASA) taking place in Kigali Convention Center from December 1st-7th.


The meeting has convened at least10,000 delegates from nearly 150 countries, and these include people working in the field of HIV, as well as leaders, people living with HIV and others committed to ending the epidemic.


During the session held under the theme: ‘Financing for Gender Equality in the HIV/AIDS Response’ Mrs. Lo stressed that HIV prevalence is not just a health issue, but a development issue, economic and social issue.


“The strategies to tackle it should therefore leave none behind,” she said.

During the session, it was highlighted that although more women are accessing life-saving HIV treatment mostly due to the elimination of mother-to-child transmission, HIV/AIDS continues to be the leading cause of death among women and girls of reproductive age globally.

Therefore, UN Women presented its strategies in place to address the challenge. Among them, is a UN Women project to help women living with HIV/AIDs that has reached and trained over 2000 women in 23 districts of Rwanda.

On tackling the key barriers to women’s access to HIV treatment, a UN Women global review recommended a six-point plan for action.

Those include multi-layered interventions, gender-based community engagement, encompassing availability, affordability, acceptability and quality of care, among others.

Financing on a decline

In spite of the improvement in the global supply of better access and treatment of HIV, women still face barriers to treatment, due to violence in the family, community and healthcare institutional levels, and pervasive cultural, economic and human-rights related factors.

On that note, Fatou Lo expressed her worries that financing gender equality is significantly sliding despite its important role in reducing HIV trends in women.

According to WHO, international HIV financing has been on a decline - experiencing a 20% drop between 2013 and 2016.

“Despite strong commitments, and growing evidence on what works to promote gender equality in HIV responses, it remains a challenge to ensure adequate financing for these interventions,” she said.

The session saw a panel discussion that was composed with Rehema Namutebi, Director General of National Budget Minecofin, Nazneen Damji, senior policy advisor in UN Women, Lavanya Vijayasigham from the United Nations University Institute for International Global Health, Violet Shivutse Care giver in Kenya and Nicholas Niwagaba Director of Uganda Network of Young People Living with HIV.

The panel discussions revolved around how financing gender equality as a way to fight against HIV prevalence in women can be enhanced.

Concluding the panel, Rehema Namutebi, suggested that in order to adequately finance gender equality, “we should first address the issue, and establish clear systems in which the financing will be carried out”.

According to UNAIDs, in 2018, there were an estimated 18.8 million women aged 15 and older living with HIV, constituting 52% of all adults living with HIV, majority of them from sub-Saharan Africa.

Assumpta Ingabire, PS Migeprof.

A moderator speaking at UN Women event studying Financing for Gender Equality in the HIV AIDS response.

Dr Jean-Pierre Nyemanzi, PS Ministry of Health.

A particpant sharing ideas with others.

Moderator Jacqueline Utamuriza Nzisabira.

Lavanya Vijayasingham, Fellow United Nations University Institute for International Global Health.

Nazneen Damji, UN Women Senior Policy Advisor, Gender Equality, Health, and HIV.

Rehema Namutebi, DG National Budget Minecofin giving her speech.


Panelists sharing ideas during the session.

Participants sharing ideas.

Participants following the session.

Right to left: Assumpta Ingabire, PS Migeprof, Fode Ndiaye, UN Resident Coordinator in Rwanda, Fatou Lo, UN Women Representative in Rwanda following the session.

Violet Shivutse, Chair and Africa Representative, HUWAIRU Commission.

The session attracted men and women from across the globe.


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