Spotlight on women and girls in the fight to end epidemics

How do gender inequality and gender norms impact HIV, tuberculosis and malaria?

Despite global gains, gender inequalities, harmful practices, sexual violence and discrimination against women and girls continue to put their health at great 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.

For instance:

  • In Africa, 10,000 women and 200,000 infants die annually as a result of malaria during pregnancy.
  • In low and middle income countries, TB is the fifth leading cause of death for women aged 15-44.
  • In the hardest hit countries, girls account for more than 80% of new HIV infections among adolescents.

What is the Global Fund doing to support women and girls?

In 2014, the Global Fund launched a new Gender Equality Strategy Action Plan, placing increased priority on addressing gender inequalities and strengthening efforts to protect women and girls’ rights to health care. In 2015, approximately 55-60 per cent of the Global Fund’s spending was directed to women and girls.

Keeping Girls in School

Keeping adolescent girls and young women in school not only reduces their vulnerability to HIV infection but can yield healthy, educated and financially independent women who make well-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 is supporting programs that aim to keep girls and women between 14 and 22 years in school, and to offer them additional education and social support. The Global Fund also invests in providing comprehensive sexuality education to girls and young women in HIV prevalent areas.

Women’s Right and Representation

The Global Fund encourages steps to promote more women to take part in design and implementation of programs in their communities. At the country level 40 percent of decision makers in Global Fund grant committees are now women. The Global Fund is also training tens of thousands of women in high burden countries like Ethiopia to be health extension workers. This has improved access and availability of maternal and child health care and contributed to transforming gender roles in their communities by providing women with meaningful and skilled employment opportunities. The Global Fund is also working in partnership with legal aid services to support women and girls who are survivors of gender based violence and HIV positive. Other programs strive to prevent discrimination, health intervention without informed consent, or breach of medical confidentiality.

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