Tackling gender dimensions of HIV/AIDS

Photo: Zarnigor Rajabova

Central Asia has the lowest prevalence of HIV in the world, but new HIV infections continue to rise. The epidemic is currently concentrated among injecting drug users (IDUs), sex workers and their sexual partners, with women injecting drugs mainly responsible for sexually transmitting the virus. In Tajikistan, this group is joined by the wives and partners left behind by labour migrants.

UN Women has worked on the gender dimensions of HIV/AIDS in Europe and Central Asia since 2003.

In Central Asia, the UN Women Multi-Country Office assists Governments to implement national AIDS responses that tackle HIV and gender-based violence and deliver national gender equality strategies and plans responsive to the needs of women living with HIV.

The UN Women Multi-Country Office works to:

  • increase National Governments’ commitments and accountability on HIV-specific needs of women and girls;
  • strengthen the leadership and participation of women living with HIV at all levels of decision-making, to effectively voice their concerns and promote evidence-based advocacy;
  • address gender-based violence and its role in the spread of HIV;
  • support capacity building to strengthen the impact of networks of women living with HIV in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan;
  • Generate evidence and data on the gender dimensions of HIV.

UN Women in Action

  • Facilitated the development of networks of women living with HIV in Central Asia. Under the first phase of the UBRAF (Unified Budget, Results and Accountability Framework) project, UN Women MCO supported the creation of the Eurasian Women’s Network on AIDS (EWNA), a regional network of national groups in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, whose mission is to improve the quality of life of women living with HIV and affected by HIV.
  • Helped the National Networks of women living with HIV (WLHIV) and individuals to develop a strategy and program document for involving women as key stakeholders in HIV response. The strategy includes advocacy and monitoring of Health Ministries and other authorities commitments to gender equality, including the needs of WLHIV. UN Women also helped the National Networks of WLWH to elaborate a two-year strategic plan, to meet with potential partners, and design projects.
  • Identified key opportunities for networks of WLHIV to engage and participate in events and dialogues where policy is determined at global, regional and national levels.
  • Leveraged CEDAW reporting processes to create advocacy spaces for key women’s rights issues in the context of HIV and engaging WLHIV networks in this advocacy.
  • Co-convened the First Eurasian Forum of HIV-positive women and the First Women’s Forum of Central Asian women leaders working on HIV. Aimed at mobilizing society to implement the AIDS Strategy, the meeting called for advancing gender equality in the HIV response and universal access to HIV treatment and prevention. It resulted in a Call to Action on addressing the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) needs of women through friendly SRH/HIV services; and promoting an enabling environment to end stigma and discrimination against WLHIV in partnership with media and international organizations.