UNAIDS, Annie Lennox, launch action framework for women, girls and HIV

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UNAIDS, Annie Lennox, launch action framework for women, girls and HIV

02 March 2010

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(from left) Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director; Annie Lennox, artist and political and social activist; Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator. NY, 2 March 2010
Credit: UNAIDS/B. Hamilton

Globally, women and girls continue to be affected disproportionately by HIV. AIDS related illness is the leading cause of death and disease among women of reproductive age (15-49 years) worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, women account for approximately 60% of estimated HIV infections. The proportion of women to men living with HIV in Asia rose from 19% in 2000 to 35% in 2008.

UNAIDS Executive Director Mr Michel Sidibé and artist and political and social activist Annie Lennox launched the Agenda for Accelerated Country Action to bring global political attention to the well-being of women and girls today at the United Nations in New York. Today the 15-year review of the implementation of the Beijing declaration and Platform for Action opened at the Commission of the Status of Women.

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Annie Lennox, artist and political and social activist addresses the launch of the action framework for women, girls and HIV. NY, 2 March 2010
Credit: UNAIDS/B. Hamilton

Ending violence against women is one of the key priority areas of UNAIDS. Up to 70% of women experience violence in their lifetime–in South Africa a woman is raped every minute.

The launch, moderated by Mr Sidibé, took the form of a dialogue, involving approximately 300 representatives from governments, civil society, and networks of women living with HIV, and women’s rights advocates and activists.

“The brutality faced by many women and girls goes far beyond social policy issues; in essence it is about equality and justice – it must become a foreign policy issue. This Agenda for Accelerated Country Action for women and girls is a path to open dialogue with leaders of countries on how we shape the world of tomorrow,” Mr Sidibé said when opening the floor for discussions.

We know that gender inequality puts millions of women and girls across the globe at greater risk of HIV infection.

Annie Lennox

Annie Lennox called for a broad movement for change saying that AIDS responses should address the rights of women and girls and must challenge gender roles to successfully stop the AIDS epidemic.

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Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator. NY, 2 March 2010
Credit: UNAIDS/B. Hamilton

The Agenda for Accelerated Country Action aims to tie the women’s human rights movement with the global AIDS response and mobilize all constituencies, starting with UNAIDS and the United Nations Development Fund for Women, through increased political commitment, stronger capacity and increased resources.

This Agenda for Accelerated Country Action for women and girls is a path to open dialogue with leaders of countries on how we shape the world of tomorrow.

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

“We know the facts,” Ms Lennox said, “we know that gender inequality puts millions of women and girls across the globe at greater risk of HIV infection. It is unacceptable that only 38% of young women have accurate, comprehensive knowledge of HIV.”

Mr Sidibé asked Ms Lennox how music and culture can play a role in inspiring positive change in societal practices that currently undermine the health of women and girls and violate their rights.

“I’m using my voice to call on leaders—in political, religious and business spheres—and communities to change the power imbalances between men and women, for a better world,” Ms Lennox replied.

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The launch involved approximately 300 representatives from governments, civil society, and networks of women living with HIV, and women’s rights advocates and activists.
Credit: UNAIDS/B. Hamilton

The Agenda for Accelerated Country Action was developed in response to the pressing need to address the persistent gender inequality and human rights violations that affect women and girls specifically. It outlines the need to understand and respond to the particular effects of the HIV epidemic on women and girls and translate political commitments into scaled-up action.

Importantly the Agenda advocates for men to work side by side with women for gender equality, challenging ideals of masculinity that lead to increased risk-taking and sanction violence against women and girls.

The Joint United Nations, which works in countries, will now begin a dialogue with civil society, including networks of women living with HIV and women’s groups, government and development partners to identify opportunities together to step up the response.