Rwanda launches Agenda for Accelerated action for Women and Girls in the Response to HIV

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Rwanda launches Agenda for Accelerated action for Women and Girls in the Response to HIV

10 November 2010

First Lady of Rwanda greeting Proffesor Tlou, UNAIDS ESA Director, together with Dr Sezibera, Minister of Health. Credit: UNAIDS

Rwanda’s National Accelerated Plan for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV 2010-2014 was unveiled on 10 November at an event at the Parliament, in the capital Kigali.

The event was presided over by the First lady of Rwanda, Ms Jeannette Kagame, along with the Speaker of the Rwandan Parliament, Ms Rose Mukantabana, the Minister of Health, Dr Richard Sezibera, and the Executive Secretary of the National AIDS Control Commission, Dr Anita Asiimwe, in front of members of both chambers of the Rwandan Parliament.

The broad range of representatives present at the launch echoed the diverse stakeholders involved in the plan’s development, including national institutions, development partners, civil society organizations, and the private sector.

The First lady commended the commitment of the Ministry of Health, the National AIDS Control Commission, development partners, and civil society organizations in responding to HIV through an evidence-informed approach.

Some 3% of the adult population in Rwanda is living with HIV and in urban areas HIV prevalence as high as 7.3%. HIV prevalence in women is 3.6%, which is significantly higher than in men, at 2.3%.

Rwanda can not stop the spread of HIV without addressing women and girls and highlighted the importance of ensuring equitable allocation of resources, women’s participation in decision-making, and engagement of men and boys to address harmful gender norms

Ms Jeannette Kagame, First Lady of Rwanda

“Rwanda can not stop the spread of HIV without addressing women and girls and highlighted the importance of ensuring equitable allocation of resources, women’s participation in decision-making, and engagement of men and boys to address harmful gender norms,” said the First Lady.   

Young women are far more often infected by HIV than young men, and in urban areas HIV prevalence is 3.9% among young women versus 1.1% among young men.

In her opening remarks, the Speaker of the Parliament noted, “I am convinced that great efforts have been made in our country to stop the spread of HIV and to take care of those infected or affected. However, there is still a long way to go to achieve the objective of an AIDS-free generation.”

In addressing those gathered, the Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern, Professor Sheila Tlou, also commended the leadership and evidence-informed planning shown by the Government of Rwanda in its HIV response.  

Rwanda has been selected by UNAIDS as a champion country globally, to share lessons with and inspire the work of other countries on the agenda for accelerated country action.

Professor Tlou recognized the ambitious goals of Rwanda’s National Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS 2009–2012 of reaching 60% of sex workers with prevention programs, increasing condom use to 93%, and raising comprehensive knowledge of HIV to 70% by 2012.

We recognize, without question, that focusing on reducing infections among women and girls, does not mean not working with men and boys

Professor Sheila Tlou, Director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern

“We also recognize, without question, that focusing on reducing infections among women and girls, does not mean not working with men and boys,” said Professor Tlou.

According to the recent Behavior Surveillance Survey (2010), HIV prevalence among sex workers in Kigali city is 59%, rising to over 90% among people aged 35 and over. In relation to this, the Minister of Health, Dr Richard Sezibera, highlighted the fact that the response to HIV is not an academic exercise; it is “a fight that brings benefit to individuals in our country.”