This past International Women's Day took place on March 8, and in honor of the day UNAIDS published a report celebrating women's leadership and contribution to the global HIV response. A snapshot of the current state of affairs, "When Women Lead, Change Happens: Women Advancing the End of AIDS" gives needed attention to the women-led movements and initiatives that make space for women to be in charge of their own agenda, including the #WhatWomenWant campaign.
The report describes the structural, biological, economic and social factors at play that put women and girls at higher risk of HIV throughout their lifecycle. It calls for increased feminist leadership within the AIDS repsponse, more attention to the needs and preferences of women in all of their diversity, and policies and programs that are designed and implemented by those most impacted.
"The AIDS response has been led by women. When there was no treatment available, women were at the forefront of providing care for people living with and affected by HIV. Grandmothers looked after orphans. Elder sisters looked after their younger siblings. Women fought for access to treatment and mobilized.
Today, we are at the cusp of eliminating new HIV infections among children—a movement led by women. More women are accessing antiretroviral therapy than men, transferring the benefits of their good health to their families and economies. When young women are empowered and have their rights fulfilled, HIV prevalence falls, there are fewer unintended pregnancies, fewer maternal deaths and fewer dropouts from school and more women join the workforce. When young women have access to education, health outcomes dramatically improve." - Foreward by Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS
More information can be found on the UNAIDS website.