Mainstreaming gender into HIV/AIDS action: priorities for interventions focusing on women and girls

Toolkits & Guides
8 p.

During the process of formulating the Kenya National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan (KNASP) of 2000 -2005, some of the gender dimensions of the epidemic had been recognised. It was noted that a striking feature of the epidemic was its impact on women as compared to men. The incidence of HIV/AIDS among women was rising at a shocking rate and women were being infected at an earlier age than men were. However, explicit strategies that focused specifically on gender issues were not included in the development of policies or programmes under the five priority areas of the KNASP.In 2001, as the gender aspects of the epidemic became clearer and it was recognised that gender was playing a crucial role in the dynamics of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the National AIDS Control Council (NACC) established a Technical Sub- Committee on Gender and HIV/AIDS. The Technical Sub-Committee's mandate was to formulate guidelines and create a strategic framework through which gender concerns could be integrated into the analyses, formulation and monitoring of policies and programmes relating to the five priority areas of the KNASP. This was to ensure that the beneficial outcomes are shared equitably by all - women, men, boys and girls. Based on the recommendations of the sub-committee, it was agreed that the best approach would be to the existing KNASP because it is the Key document that guides and co-ordinates all responses to HIV/AIDS in Kenya.The gender analysis and mainstreaming strategies presented in this paper are centrally informed by two NACC commissioned field studies carried out in October, 2001 and May 2002 as well as by the UNAIDS best practice booklet: Innovative Approaches to HIV/AIDS prevention.The findings of the above studies and the resulting gender analyses illustrated that gender roles and relations powerfully influence the course and impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The show that different attributes and roles societies assign to males and females profoundly affect their ability to protect themselves against the scourge and cope with its impacts. The findings show that gender-related factors have shaped the extend to which men, women, boys and girls are vulnerable to HIV infection, the ways in which AIDS affects them, and the kinds of responses that are feasible in different communities and societies.Their clear conclusion and recommendations is that, because the HIV/AIDS pandemic specifically in Africa is largely fuelled by gender inequalities, a proactive and comprehensive engendered response is required to effectively prevent its spread and minimise its impact. This paper assumes the position that effective and sustainable prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS and the control of its impacts are therefore, likewise largely possible with the equal recognition of women's rights in all spheres of life and therefore, women's empowerment is an important tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS.Through presentation and dissemination of this paper, AZTRAMADE, hopes to push the gender dimension of the HIV/AIDS epidemic from merely being an intellectual idea, to a practical tool for guiding policy decisions and programming for all activities under the umbrella of the Kenya National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan for 2002 - 2005 through the suggested gender mainstreaming strategies.

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