Feature story

#WhatWomenWant for the HIV response: a new space for new conversations

10 November 2016

#WhatWomenWant is a virtual space that amplifies the voices of young women, allowing them to share expertise and life experiences, explore solutions and build strengthened networks across gender-related issues, sectors and movements.

Inspired by the impact of the virtual activism surrounding the 2016 Commission on the Status of Women, the Athena Network and its partners, including UNAIDS, used the momentum to build a platform where women could mobilize around the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS. From May to July 2016, a social media campaign reached 13 million Twitter accounts and organized five Twitter conversations that engaged 120 000 people. The aim was to hear what women want and to identify specific actions needed to change the lives of women and girls.

The initiative continues to engage an expanding network of primarily women-led organizations working to advance gender equality, with a special focus on areas where health and rights meet.

#WhatWomenWant aims to:

  • Focus attention on the urgent need to address women’s rights and gender-related disparities within and beyond the HIV response.
  • Act as a catalyst for joined-up action where gender equality, human rights, sexual and reproductive health issues, gender-based violence and the HIV response intersect.
  • Put women in charge of defining their own agendas.
  • Harness the experience of women to create advocacy tools to advance their own solutions wherever they are.
  • Identify opportunities for women to engage stakeholders and to be meaningfully involved in the decision-making processes that most affect their lives.

#WhatWomenWant continues to strengthen links across movements to end child marriage, stop sexual violence, ensure safe and legal abortion rights and advance comprehensive sexuality education.

“At a time when funding for women's rights has been on the decline, the #WhatWomenWant online campaign provides a space for young feminists to contribute to and influence global policy discussions on the HIV response,” says Catherine Nyamburra, a young activist from Kenya. “It provides a space to amplify young feminist voices through various channels of participation and for feminist thought leadership in the response to HIV.”


United States Global AIDS Ambassador, Deborah Birx, explains why young women are more vulnerable to becoming infected with HIV. 1000 young women are being infected every day = 7000 a week globally.

Hands up for #HIVprevention — World AIDS Day campaign

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