Gender, HIV and health

woman and her child in ZambiaPhoto: Carly Learson/UNDP

Globally there are 16 million women living with HIV, which constitutes 50% of all people living with HIV. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion rises to 60%, many of whom are young women and adolescents. As a result of challenges in negotiating safe sex and other manifestations of gender inequality, gender based violence, including intimate partner violence, is closely associated with women’s risk of contracting HIV. According to a 2013 global review, 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical or intimate partner sexual violence or non-partner sexual violence. However, some studies conducted at the national level show that up to 70% of women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime from an intimate partner.

Evidence suggests that strategies to address male and female gender norms, strengthen legal frameworks, repeal punitive and discriminatory laws and policies, and support women’s education and economic security have a meaningful impact on reducing gender inequality. UNDP works with governments, development partners and civil society to develop national laws and policies that address the causes of women’s vulnerability to HIV and gender-based violence. As a partner of the Global Fund, UNDP supports the integration of gender programming in Global Fund grants. UNDP supports gender-responsive and human rights based HIV responses and promotes sex-disaggregation of data as a key component of gender-responsive public investments and budget frameworks including within the context of HIV. 

For example, in Papua New Guinea, UNDP’s support resulted in a national gender-based violence strategy that addresses the links between violence and HIV transmission, and includes increased programming to address these linkages in the provision of gender-based violence and HIV services


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