Feature story

Women in African Parliament to accelerate action on gender and HIV

28 September 2010

Woman participating in debate in Senegal. Credit: UNAIDS/P.Virot

The Global Power Africa conference opened on September 26 in Washington D.C. The event brought together women Members of Parliament and Ministers from twelve countries in Africa, to develop strategies to support the implementation of the UNAIDS Agenda for Accelerated Country Action for Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV at country level.

The meeting, held within the framework for the regional Partnership Of Women Elected/Appointed Representatives (GlobalPOWER®) program, was convened by UNAIDS in partnership with the Center for Women Policy Studies.

UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Management and External Relations, Ms Jan Beagle, opened the event by highlighting UNAIDS’ commitment to work with parliamentarians on developing strategic and results-oriented National Plans on HIV at country level.

“There is a lot of power in this room,” Ms Beagle remarked. “As women, you have the ability to speak for the marginalized – as Michel Sidibé says; you are the voice of the voiceless.”

Ms Beagle stressed the consensus on the need for women-centered approaches that emerged at the Millennium Development Goal summit held in New York 20-22 September. Participants at the summit underscored that without investments in women the MDGs would not be reached.

According to Ms Beagle, UNAIDS believes in the importance of linking gender to all MDGs, as part of the integration of responses to maximize resources for broader health and development outcomes—the AIDS plus MDGs approach.

“We must work with great diligence and care to elevate the status of women and to successfully reduce the burden of HIV.  Zero new infections!  Zero discrimination!  Zero AIDS-related deaths!,” Ms Beagle said.