Women’s HIV/AIDS Conference Delegates Develop Action Plan To Foster Women’s, Girls’ Leadership in Fight Against Disease
Delegates on Saturday at the close of the first International Women's Summit on Women's Leadership and HIV and AIDS in Nairobi, Kenya, released a 10-point action plan that aims to foster leadership roles of women and girls in the fight against HIV/AIDS, the Nation/AllAfrica.com reports (Wafula, Nation/AllAfrica.com, 7/9).
The conference, organized by the World YWCA, was attended by more than 1,500 AIDS advocates, celebrities, community health workers, global leaders and policymakers. The summit aimed to address the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls and examined issues such as violence against women, poverty and children's rights, and access to resources. The summit is co-convened by the International Community of Women Living With HIV/AIDS and had support from UNAIDS' Global Coalition on Women and AIDS and the United Nations Population Fund (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/6).
The plan, called Nairobi 2007 Call to Action, identifies strategies for change that can be implemented by communities, religious groups, families and individuals, the Nation/AllAfrica.com reports. The plan of action includes securing significant involvement of women in decision making processes; promoting equality and the human rights of girls and women; ensuring their sexual, physical and psychological safety and security; promoting their reproductive and sexual rights and health; and increasing their access to education, economic security and other resources, such as the right to own and inherit property (Nation/AllAfrica.com, 7/9).
According to South Africa Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, men also must become involved to effectively combat the disease. "There aren't enough men who are taking enough responsibility to go for tests and live responsibly, and that kind of (behavior) compromises the fight" against HIV/AIDS, Mlambo-Ngcuka said, adding that the "response to HIV will not be won if men do not come on board since they are equally affected or infected." In addition, empowering women is an effective HIV prevention method, Mlambo-Ngcuka said. "Addressing the economic status of women" will provide women with resources and choices so "they can get out [of] abusive relationships" and "acquire the support that they need," she said, adding, "The most important thing is [to] remove women from the bottom of the pyramid" (AFP/China Daily, 7/7).
Musimbi Kanyoro, World YWCA general secretary, said the call to action is a "pledge each of us at this summit is making in our hearts and with our hands. Women are committing themselves to do something to win the war on AIDS." She added, "Where one woman acts, more will be inspired and be committed. More will take action until there is no power that can stop us." Conference delegates also pledged to work toward increasing access to services among women living with and affected by HIV, including safe testing, treatment and support services and promoting the rights of young women and children (Nation/AllAfrica.com, 7/9).
Related Opinion Piece
"To successfully defeat AIDS, we must do more to help women to protect themselves," United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Elizabeth Mataka and Zeda Rosenberg, CEO of the International Partnership for Microbicides, write in a Nation opinion piece. According to Mataka and Rosenberg, an HIV vaccine and microbicides are "promising" tools that "women could use to prevent infection." They add, "We must prioritize research on these promising preventive technologies," and at the "same time, we must do more with the tools that already exist," such as female condoms and services to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission (Mataka/Rosenberg, Nation, 7/7).
Kaisernetwork.org webcasts of the conference soon will be available online.