KIGALI - First Lady, Jeannette Kagame, yesterday launched a four-year action plan to address gender inequalities and human rights violations that put women and girls at risk of HIV infection.
The plan, dubbed, “National Accelerated Plan for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV 2010-2014”, was developed by the National Aids Control Commission (CNLS) in partnership with other stakeholders and it was launched at the Parliament.
Mrs. Kagame said that the plan is designed to respond to studies that show women and girls being most affected and most vulnerable to HIV.
“A new dawn motivates us and reminds us that we need to continuously promote and protect the rights of women and girls, so that the HIV epidemic does not reveal a gap between rhetoric and reality,” she said.
The First Lady noted that the move demonstrates that Rwanda has changed her mind set and is determined in words and deeds.
“With this plan, we can ensure that women and girls not only have the knowledge and power to protect themselves, but also take their rightful equal place as advocates, leaders and policy makers who drive change,” said the First Lady.
She also called for the need to ensure that funding for the AIDS response is allocated adequately and equitably so that women and girls can fully access services.
“We need to promote better collection of data and better monitoring, so that we are able to ensure that investments result in real and meaningful improvements in the lives of women and girls.”
Mrs. Kagame also highlighted the need to engage more effectively with men and boys in tackling the harmful gender norms that enhance vulnerability.
She called on government officials, civil society and development partners to energize the global response to AIDS, while vigorously advancing gender equality.
The UNAIDS Regional Director – Eastern and Southern Africa, Prof Sheila Tlou, said that Rwanda is the third country to have developed an accelerated country action plan for addressing gender and HIV after China and Liberia
“Given Rwanda’s distinguished record and sterling performance on women’s rights and gender equality, I have no doubt at all in my mind, that Rwanda can lead the way in demonstrating how to tackle HIV and AIDS among women and girls, and truly reverse and halt the spread of the epidemic,” she said.
“Rwanda is doing right; deliberate, carefully directed actions, and scaled up programmes need to be targeted particularly towards urban areas where prevalence is higher and where rates of new infections are particularly high among younger women and girls and among older un-married women.”
The Executive Secretary of CNLS, Dr. Anita Asiimwe, gave an overview of the HIV situation amongst women and girls in Rwanda, saying that 59 percent of the people living with HIV in Rwanda are female.
“We will need close to US$5.7 million to put this plan into action, and so far, US$5.1million is available” she said.
The function was also attended by Health Minister, Dr. Richard Sezibera and the UN resident coordinator, Aurélien Agbénonci among others.