Participants from around Eastern Europe and Central Asia gathered in Georgia in late February for a three-day training designed to improve the integration of gender-specific approaches in national responses to HIV and AIDS.
The Eurasian Women's Network on AIDS received a grant from UN Women to carry out the training that should help ensure that women and girls are not left behind in concept notes for access to Global Fund support to fight the three diseases.
Workshops focused specifically on gender-sensitive and gender-transformative programming, with an emphasis on key populations, as well as how to ensure appropriate budgeting for women-specific activities.
The Global Fund developed a Gender Equality Strategy in 2008 but it has never been fully implemented. A push to invigorate the strategy accompanied the roll-out of the new funding model (NFM), supported by advocates for women and children (see article here). Still, there are considerable gaps in concept notes with respect to targeted activities, advocacy and outreach to women -- all of which have been identified by the Technical Review Panel as they sift through the proposals.
EWNA's training is being touted as a building block for countries needing a more inclusive approach in the concept note development process. According to regional coordinator Svetlana Moroz, the idea for the training has been germinating since the informal founding of the group in 2013 because of the realization that without a strong network advocating on their behalf, women were at risk of being sidelined in the programs being proposed to the Global Fund. Delegates from three states in the Caucasus, four in Central Asia, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Estonia are represented in EWNA.
“The Global Fund has worked to empower affected communities to participate in the HIV and TB response, and to promote state-level advocacy to increase domestic contributions [to the disease response]," she told Aidspan. "But there has not been the same effort to empower women, to get them involved in CCMs, to be bolder in discussions in community-level NGOs, to be engaged on the front-line of the HIV response in the region. We think that being involved in the Global Fund processes is a great opportunity to promote leadership by women and to foster a new approach that ensures there is gender-responsiveness in health programming and financing."