The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is the main advocate for accelerated, comprehensive and coordinated global action on the epidemic. UNAIDS aims to lead, strengthen and support an expanded response to HIV and AIDS that includes preventing transmission of HIV, providing care and support to those already living with the virus, reducing the vulnerability of individuals and communities to HIV and alleviating the impact of the epidemic. The Global Coalition on Women and AIDS is a partnership between United Nations agencies and civil society organizations seeking to call attention and spur action to address the increasing HIV infection rates among women and girls.
UNAIDS policy position paper: Practical guidelines for intensifying HIV prevention (2007) draws specific attention to the fact that strategies to reduce violence against women are essential to a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy for women.
UNAIDS pays particular attention to the intersections between violence against women and the threat of violence, and HIV prevention, treatment and care for women and girls. The Global Coalition on Women and AIDS strategy covers policy development, research and awareness-raising.
UNAIDS co-sponsors also take a lead on violence against women, particularly WHO, UNFPA, and UNICEF. In May 2009, UNAIDS issued a policy document -- Joint Action for Results: the UNAIDS Outcome Framework 2009-2011 -- which outlines priority action areas in the AIDS response and opportunities to link the AIDS agenda to broader development goals and the MDGs.
One of the priority areas identified for concerted action by UNAIDS and cosponsors is reducing violence against women. The document commits UNAIDS to use its convening role, advocacy and programming resources to reduce sexual and intimate partner violence through appropriate entry points in the AIDS response. UNAIDS is an active partner in the inter-agency initiative UN Action against sexual violence in conflict.
The interagency initiative Together for Girls and UNAIDS co-hosted an event to commemorate World AIDS Day and the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, focusing on the progress made toward addressing gender-based violence and the interface with HIV and on the leadership within the HIV and gender communities to raise awareness and increase access to prevention and care services. UNAIDS also supported Lesotho to use the Campaign on 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence to raise public awareness. UNAIDS supported Sri Lanka to integrate awreness-raising of HIV into its national advocacy and communication under the UNiTE campaign to end violence. The inter-agency intiitative Together for Girls brought greater visibility to empowering women and girls in the context of HIV at the International AIDS Society AIDS 2012 meeting in Washington DC, where the partnership was able to make the connection between child abuse, gender inequality and HIV.Hide
In August 2007, UNAIDS convened a technical consultation on social change communication aimed, among other things, at examining the role of social change communication in HIV prevention, with a specific focus on tackling the drivers of the epidemic.Hide
As one of its key action areas, the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS advocates for strategies to halt violence against women and to address the linkages between violence and HIV transmission and access to services; promotes the right of women to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, free of coercion, discrimination and violence; and calls for greater action to address gender-based and sexual violence, including in conflict and post-conflict settings. The link between violence against women and HIV has been featured as an important part of UNAIDS advocacy messages and was the subject of the November 2005 Issues Brief for use with policy makers.Hide
On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2007, the United Nations system celebrated with a panel presentation and discussion, exhibition, and film screening on the global theme of ‘Ending impunity for violence against women’. The Executive Secretary of ESCAP and Executive Director of UNAIDS called for universal respect for women’s human rights and an end to all forms of violence against women and impunity. Copies of the Secretary-General’s study were widely distributed.Hide
UNAIDS supported nine civil society consultations,6 led by the Women Won’t Wait campaign, focusing on HIV and partner violence, and advocating for increased investment in HIV, gender equality and women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights through the Post-2015 development framework. To highlight the gross human rights violation of violence against women, UNAIDS collaborated with the Permanent Mission of Namibia and Victims2Survivors, to launch the Namibian ‘Unite to end Gender-based Violence’ exhibition on 10 December 2013, in Geneva.Hide
Awareness on gender-based violence and livelihoods was raised through a documentary produced by UNAIDS “Empowered over their fields, empowered over their lives, food security response to HIV and gender inequities” (http://vimeo.com/14921424 or http://www.fao.org/emergencies/current-focus/hiv-aids-and-emergencies/en/), a brochure http://www.fao.org/docrep/012/al315e/al315e00.pdf and several articles in FAO Dimitra newsletter and IRIN Media Centre (Kenya: growing self-esteem at farm schools (IRIN)) http://www.plusnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=89179).Hide
A meeting "Stopping the HIV epidemic – young women, girls and HIV in southern Africa. What must be done!" was convened in June 2008 by UNAIDS with the University of Witwatersrand Reproductive Health Research Unit. Three research papers relevant to violence against women were presented: intergenerational sex; sexual violence; and risk perception, knowledge and behaviour. The findings of the meeting were presented at ICASA in December 2008 along with communication material put together by Soul City to engage communities and decision makers. They were published in a special supplement of AIDS that was distributed at ICASA.Hide
Leveraging existing accountability mechanisms for legal and policy action, UNAIDS, UNDP, UN Women and OHCHR jointly organized a briefing of the CEDAW committee on the link between HIV and violence against women.Hide