Photo credit: Global Fund

A society that does not cure and treat its women and young girls with love and care and with equality will never be a healthy society.” – Dr Nafsiah Mboi, former Indonesian Minister of Health and former Board Chair, Global Fund

Despite global gains for women and girls continued inequalities, harmful practices, sexual violence and discrimination continue to put their health at risk. Globally, women and girls tend to have unequal power in sexual relationships, economic decision-making and access to health information and services, all of which greatly influence their vulnerability to diseases.

In 2014, the Global Fund launched a new action plan that gives greater priority to gender inequalities and strengthening efforts to protect the rights of women and girls to health care. In 2015, about 55-60 per cent of Global Fund spending was directed to women and girls.

Keeping girls and young women in school not only reduces their vulnerability to HIV infection but also yields healthy, educated and financially independent women who make informed choices about their lives. In a select group of countries with high burden of HIV among adolescent girls and young women, the Global Fund supports programs to keep 14-22 year olds in school and offer them additional education and social support. The Global Fund also invests in comprehensive sexuality education to girls and young women in HIV prevalent areas.

The Global Fund encourages more female participation in community-level program design and implement. At country level 40 percent of decision-makers in Global Fund grant committees are now women. The Global Fund also trains tens of thousands of women as health extension workers in high-burden countries like Ethiopia. This helps to improve access to maternal and child health care and to transform gender roles by providing women with opportunities for meaningful, skilled employment. The Global Fund also works in partnership to provide legal aid services to support female survivors of gender based violence and women who are HIV positive. Other programs strive to prevent discrimination, health interventions without informed consent, or breaches of medical confidentiality.

We cannot end epidemics or achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without gender equality!