Staff With ‘Gender Expertise’ Needed To Strengthen Policies, Programs at Global Fund, Report Says
The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria needs to hire staff with "gender expertise" to better address the "feminization" of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the fund's policies and programs, according to a report released on Thursday by the International Center for Research on Women, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 12/2). ICRW researcher Nata Duvvury and consultants Helen Cornman and Carolyn Long conducted the two-year study, titled "Strengthening Civil Society Participation and Gender Expertise" and funded by the Ford Foundation (ICRW release, 12/1). The report notes that the Global Fund has been a "leader in its commitment to integrating gender concerns into its structures, policies and processes" (ICRW report executive summary, 12/1). However, according to CQ HealthBeat, "involving women is not enough to ensure that gender concerns are addressed in programs and policies," Duvvury and her colleagues wrote in the report, adding, "Staff who have gender expertise are needed -- people who thoroughly understand the different roles and responsibilities of men and women and how that affects power, access to resources and vulnerability to diseases." The report recommends that the board of the Global Fund during its December meeting add at least one "gender expert" to the technical committee that oversees funding proposals, CQ HealthBeat reports. In addition, it calls on the members to draw up a manual of guidelines to help participating countries incorporate gender sensitivity into their procedures and programs to fight the three diseases. ICRW President Geeta Rao Gupta at a briefing on Thursday said that according to U.N. figures, females account for 75% of people under the age of 24 who acquire HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. She also noted that while half of HIV-positive people worldwide are women, men have greater access to treatment and prevention services for HIV, as well as for TB and malaria. The Global Fund could not be immediately reached for comment, according to CQ HealthBeat.
Role of 'Civil Society' in Global Fund
An accompanying ICRW report -- titled "Participation of Civil Society in Global Governance: Lessons Learned from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria" -- explores the role of the "civil society" -- which is made up of nongovernmental organizations and advocacy groups living and working in communities affected by HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria -- in the Global Fund's operations, CQ HealthBeat reports. According to preliminary findings of the study, civil society's advocacy work within the Global Fund "has ensured that resources flow to the areas, communities and sectors that need them most" (CQ HealthBeat, 12/2). The representation of the community to the Global Fund also has led to increased funds for programs, "democratic decision-making and a better balance of power between civil society organizations in developed and developing countries," according to an ICRW release (ICRW release, 12/1).