World AIDS Day
A Life Battling AIDS
In the early 1990s, as South Africans celebrated the release of Nelson Mandela, Prudence Mabele discovered that she was HIV positive. Two years later, she became one of the first women in her country to go public with her disease; a courageous decision inspired by the desire to fight the social stigma attached to HIV.
HIV and AIDS
The role of the Division for Gender Equality in the area of HIV and AIDS is to support the regular and systematic integration of gender equality issues into UNESCO’s HIV and AIDS related programmes and activities.
To realize this objective, the Division:
(a) promotes the systematic integration of gender equality considerations into UNESCO’s response to HIV and AIDS at national, regional and international levels;
(b) supports gender transformative strategies that aim to eliminate gender inequalities within UNESCO’s fields of competence that have a direct bearing on women’s vulnerability to HIV and AIDS and its impact;
(c) seeks to strengthen in-house capacities and skills to effectively conduct the above strategies.
The feminization of the epidemic is shown by an increased proportion of women, especially young women and girls, affected and infected by the HIV pandemic. Some data show that women from sub-Saharan Africa account for 60% of the infected population. In Africa, which accounts for over 60% of the estimated HIV infections world while, the prevalence among young women between 15 and 24 years old is about three times higher than its male counterparts.(UNAIDS, AIDS epidemic update, November 2009). In the most affected countries, women and girls account for two thirds to 90% of caregivers, thus carrying out a disproportionate burden of the AIDS-related care. This phenomenon impedes them to fulfill their employment and education opportunities. (UNAIDS, Fifty-fourth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, March 2010) UNESCO is promoting a gender transformative response to the pandemic:
- by effectively challenging biased and discriminatory policies, practices, ideas, attitudes and beliefs that condone gender inequalities that are driving the pandemic;
- by actively seeking to address institutional or structural obstacles to women’s and men’s equal and full access to quality universal care, treatment and prevention.
The Division for Gender Equality is also undertaking the following initiatives: