Press statement

Message from the UNAIDS Executive Director on Zero Discrimination Day and International Women’s Day

As the Executive Director of UNAIDS, I lead the work of the United Nations to tackle AIDS. I’m also someone who has lost family members to AIDS. This is personal.

Both my own family experience and our collective experience at the United Nations have highlighted the same key lesson: the struggle to beat AIDS is inseparable from the struggle for women’s rights and from the struggle against all forms of discrimination.

AIDS can be beaten, but it will only be beaten if we take on the social and economic injustices that perpetuate it and spur more scientific innovations to address the real needs of women and girls and people living with and vulnerable to HIV.

Worldwide, AIDS remains the biggest killer of women aged 15–49 years. To end AIDS by 2030, we must end gender-based violence, inequality and insecurity and we must ensure that women and girls have equal access to education, health and employment.

We need to transform our societies so that no one is second class and everyone’s human rights are respected. AIDS cannot be beaten while marginalized communities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, people who inject drugs and sex workers, live in fear of the state or of socially sanctioned violence and abuse.

Beating AIDS depends on tackling all forms of discrimination.

I want to thank all the brave and determined social justice movements who are the true leaders in this work.

I salute you.

Feminism, human rights and zero discrimination are values deeply rooted across the world: they express our humanity, our recognition that I am because you are. And they are central to the struggle to beat AIDS.

Let us beat AIDS. It can be done.

Winnie Byanyima

Executive Director of UNAIDS

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