Civil Society strengthens dialogue with government in 2010

April 12, 2010

March 31st was the deadline, both to governments and Civil Society, for submitting the 2010 UNGASS-AIDS reports to UNAIDS.  The bi-annual reports are required from governments by UNAIDS to monitor the achievements and challenges in the national AIDS responses. Our project Monitoring UNGASS- AIDS Goals on Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health resulted in the crafting of 12 Civil Society reports on the theme.

All reports have been analyzed and summarized in a consolidated report by Gestos and sent to UNAIDS. Besides that, all country coordinators found the best suiting way to send their findings –  some decided to send it straight to Joint Program, as a Shadow Report, others attached it, in part or fully, into the National Report, while others managed to get the key findings incorporated into the National Report. In most cases more than one strategy was utilized.

Most countries decided not to send the report independently to UNAIDS, which is a positive indicator, since the reason to do so is that they have been satisfied with the attachment and/or incorporation of the key findings into the National report produced by government. So, one first affirmation that can be drawn from this process is that in comparison to 2008, the relationship and negotiations with governments have in general improved.

Another important indicator is that all countries held talks about its contents with governmental authorities in charge of the National Report. This happened in many levels: through the participation in the UNGASS-AIDS SRH Forums and/or the invitation to CS to have a series of official meetings to address the National Report.

Situation of the countries:

Country Attached fully or summarized to National Report Findings into the Natl. Report text Sent to UNAIDS independently Group took part in negotiations with govt. about Natl. Report text
Argentina YES YES NO YES
Indonesia NO YES YES YES
South Africa YES YES NO YES
Thailand YES NO NO YES

*The former government AIDS authorities compromised in incorporating the CS UNGASS report into the National Report, nevertheless, due to the recent change of president and cabinet, it hasn’t been confirmed yet.


The 54th CSW made important resolutions regarding women’s SRH

April 9, 2010

After two weeks of intense discussions, the 54th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held last  March, at the United Nations in New York, drew some conclusions based on a fifteen-year review of the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and of the 23rd special session of the General Assembly.   The objective of the event was to share experiences and good practices, with a view to overcoming remaining obstacles and new challenges, including those related to the Millennium Development Goals.

The coordinator of Gestos, Alessandra Nilo, participated in session as a member of the Brazilian’s government delegation. The activist, among other civil society leaders, took part  in a parallel session about “The Challenges of HIV/AIDS from Beijing to 2010”, and was also part of an interactive dialogue with Government representatives and gender and AIDS experts on how to dramatically improve national responses to AIDS for women and girls at national and community levels.

Among the conclusions, some are crucial when taking into consideration the UNGASS/AIDS goals on women’s sexual and reproductive rights. They are:

1. To significantly increase and coordinate political and financial commitment to address gender equality and equity in national HIV and AIDS responses, and urges Governments to effectively reflect in their national policies, strategies and budgets the gender dimension of the pandemic, in line with the time-bound goals of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, the Beijing Platform for Action and the Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS;

2. To strengthen policy and programme linkages and coordination between HIV and AIDS and sexual and reproductive health, and their inclusion in national development plans, including poverty reduction strategies and sector-wide approaches, where they exist, as a necessary strategy for fighting the HIV and AIDS pandemic and mitigating its impact on the population, which could result in more relevant and cost-effective interventions with greater impact;

3. To strengthen and implement legal, policy, administrative and other measures for the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, including harmful traditional and customary practices, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, abuse, early marriage, child and forced marriage, rape, including marital rape, and other forms of sexual violence and coerced sexual activity, battering and trafficking in women and girls, and to ensure that violence against women is addressed as an integral part of the national HIV and AIDS response;

4. To call upon Member States to accelerate action on women, girls, gender equality and HIV, in accordance with the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development;

5. Calls upon States to fully and effectively implement the Beijing Platform for Action, the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action and the outcomes of their review conferences, including the commitments relating to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights and the promotion and protection of all human rights in this context; and to maximize their efforts to eliminate preventable maternal mortality and morbidity by strengthening comprehensive health services to women and girls, including access to sexual and reproductive health care services and information as agreed to in the Beijing Platform for Action and Cairo Programme of Action;

6. To encourage the United Nations to continue to support national monitoring and evaluation mechanisms in the context of the “three ones” principles, to enable the production and dissemination of comprehensive and timely information on the gender dimension of the pandemic, including through the collection of data disaggregated by sex, age and marital status, and to raise awareness about the need to address the critical intersection between gender inequality and HIV and AIDS.

CSW Resolution – Maternal mortality and empowerment

CSW Resolution – Women and HIV.AIDS

Getting there in 2015. A proposal of extension for the UNGASS-AIDS deadlines

April 9, 2010

The UNGASS-AIDS goals are the result of the 26th United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on HIV/AIDS, held in 2001 and establishes a global commitment to fight the epidemic. In the document there are goals, deadlines and indicators to address the crisis of HIV/AIDS in the world, considering the particularities of the different regions and countries. Throughout the process, the goals were divided into groups to be accomplished in 2003, 2005 and 2010.

The first set of goals, expected for 2003, was about the structuring of a national policy to promote an effective action against the epidemic. The goals for 2005 and 2010 relate to the expansion of programs of impact relief, care and HIV prevention.

As the deadline for the UNGASS-AIDS goals is close, organizations that deal with this issue are debating what direction will be given in order to develop policies to fight the epidemic, since a large part of the proposed goals, which should be achieved by the end of this year, has not been accomplished yet. There is a tendency to readdress the discussions to the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), whose term is due to 2015.

The MDGs were set in the United Nations Millennium Declaration, adopted by 191 Member States, in 2000, establishing concrete and specific commitments, with indicators, goals and deadlines for eight major themes that cover the main areas of work in order to promote quality of life and sustainable development of humanity. These eight goals cover 18 goals and 48 indicators that are regularly monitored – measured, evaluated and compared at national, regional and international level – by governments and civil society.

The organizations consider that, regarding the policies to fight the HIV/AIDS, the MDGs are far more general and less specific than the goals set by the UNGASS-AIDS. The transposition of the platform would, in fact, mean the loss of relevant commitments assumed and also of an accumulated discussion that is not adequately represented in the universe of the MDGs.

Thus, the civil society proposes an extension of the deadline of the UNGASS-AIDS indicators for 2015. As it occurs with the MDGs, despite significant progresses made, many of the UNGASS-AIDS goals were not totally achieved. The aim is to assure that the efforts of governments, civil society and international organizations will not be dismissed after the expiration of the UNGASS-AIDS and that the goals assumed can be effectively implemented, as well as the monitoring and evaluation of actions.

Gestos holds public hearing on Women, Violence and AIDS

April 8, 2010

The feminization of AIDS, a tendency observed since the 90s, is being stimulated by violence against women which has become increasingly visible and exacerbated by the combination of gender inequalities and fundamentalism, in a context of failure and violation of human rights, especially those related to reproduction and sexuality. Today, according to data from UNAIDS, HIV infection has become the leading cause of death and illness in women at reproductive age (between 15 and 49 years) in the world; and up to 70% of women worldwide is victim of violence and this abuse affects the ability of women to negotiate safe sex with their partners. That means they may be forced into unprotected sex, which increases the chance of HIV infection.

In Pernambuco, the problem is not different. Besides being one of the states of Brazil with more reports of violence against women, in the health services (and the ones specific to women victims of violence) there is no conduct that relates AIDS to physical and psychological violence. It’s essential in order to fight the epidemic feminization to discuss the psychological, insititucional and gender violence as factors that contribute to women become more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.

Concerned about this situation, Gestos – HIV+, Communication and Gender issues – articulated, with the State Representative Teresa Leitão, a public hearing to discuss the interface between woman, violence and AIDS. The event took place on March 23rd at the auditorium of the Legislative Assembly of Pernambuco. “This hearing highlighted that the growth of AIDS is closely related to another serious public health problem: violence against women,” said Alessandra Nilo,  the coordinator of Gestos. “AIDS is now the largest public health challenge in the world, which has led the United Nations to formally recognize the epidemic as an unprecedented global crisis. And in this crisis, it is important to consider that half of those infected are women. To picture the situation, 225 young people between 15 and 24 are infected every hour. That means that during these two hours of hearing, about 500 women will have been infected by HIV”, added Nilo.

The event also had the participation of Rejane Neiva, representative of the Special Secretary of Women in Pernambuco State, who presented the Plan to Combat the Feminization of AIDS and other STDs. Different articulations and movements of civil society and representatives of government programs, such as Health and Prevention in Schools, also participated at the moment.

In the end, Alessandra Nilo drew attention to the need for specific public policies that focus objectively the concrete demands made by the reality of women and girls living in a situation or threat and risk of violence due to their HIV status, or who are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS because of the violence context they are in. The State Representatives Teresa Leitão and Izabel Cristina committed to go on with the discussion.

43rd session of the Comission on Population and Development

April 8, 2010

“Health, morbidity, mortality and development”, this is the theme of the 43rd session of the Comission on Population and Development. The event will be held at United Nations Headquarters, in New York, from April 12th to 16th, 2010. Gestos – HIV+, Communication and Gender issues –  and LACCASO will participate to discuss women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Alessandra Nilo and Juliana César, from Gestos, will also be part of the Brazilian official delegation.