Our Perspective

      • Linking HIV and women's human rights | Petra Lanz & Susana Fried

        22 Aug 2013

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        Gender inequality exacerbates HIV risk, and new goals for development should work to protect women from violence while enabling them to access treatment. (Photo: Marguerite Nowak/UNDP Iran)

        Women living with and affected by HIV often suffer stigma and discrimination, along with egregious violations such as coercive sterilization. Gender-based violence (GBV), meanwhile, puts women at increased risk of contracting HIV: One South African study found that one in every eight new infections in young women is the result of GBV. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is unequivocal on women’s rights to equality and health. It sets out specific measures States should adopt to advance gender equality in all areas, including the elimination of sex- and gender-based discrimination in the context of HIV. Examples of how gender inequality exacerbates HIV risk vary widely and span the globe. They include inadequate or non-existent legal and property rights; child marriages; higher dropout rates; denial of life-saving health care; and intimate partner violence. Globally, HIV is still the leading cause of death of women of reproductive age  and contributes to at least 20 percent of maternal deaths. Every minute, another young woman is infected with HIV, according to UNAIDS (PDF). We have CEDAW, with its accountability mechanism, and abundant data and research on our side. How then, Read More

      • Let us keep our eyes on Mali | Jean Luc Stalon

        19 Aug 2013

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        A Malian man votes in a polling station during the presidential election. (Photo: Ezequiel Scagnetti/EU EOM Mali)

        Last Sunday, massive numbers of Malians turned out to vote peacefully in the second round of the country’s presidential election. The ballot, declared by observers as credible and transparent, was nothing short of historic. It marked the end of 18 months of conflict, including a coup and takeover of the North by Tuareg and Islamist insurgents, followed by a French military intervention. Mali and its people have suffered hugely from this period of violence and uncertainty. More than 470,000 have been displaced, while 1.4 million Malians are in need of immediate food assistance. In much of the North, the government’s presence remains precarious. With the suspension of the country’s external aid, which accounts for a third of the national budget, and the withdrawal of foreign investors, Mali’s economy fell from an expected 5.6 percent into negative growth last year, with catastrophic consequences for livelihoods and basic social services. The elections are an expression of the Malian people’s deep resolve to bring the country back to peace, stability, unity and development. Mali’s political stabilization roadmap embodies these aspirations. Through the roadmap, the country committed to free elections and sweeping democratic and social reforms in exchange for unlocking new flows of foreign aid. Read More

      • A brutal murder recalls the need for laws that protect LGBTI people | Mandeep Dhaliwal

        15 Aug 2013

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        Campaign encourages voluntary HIV testing in Cameroon. Photo: UNDP in Cameroon

        Despite the strides in HIV prevention and treatment responses, the brutal murder of a prominent AIDS activist in Cameroon serves as stark reminder of the work that still lies ahead. Eric Ohena Lembembe, Executive Director of the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS, was found dead at his home on 15 July 2013, his body showing signs of torture. His was a powerful voice for those at the margins in Cameroon, notably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people—but his violent death was hardly unique. LGBTI people around the world commonly face violence, the threat of violence, discrimination, exclusion, and harassment, often with tacit or explicit support from authorities and with grave consequences for public health. A new law in Russia, for example, imposes fines and up to 15 days in prison for people accused of spreading “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. This law will certainly fuel homophobia and could have the unintended consequence of criminalising sexual health education for young people in Russia, where rates of HIV infection have been rising dramatically. Marginalised citizens are far less likely to seek HIV counseling, testing and treatment. Most recently, data from the Global Men’s Health and Rights Survey show that experiences Read More

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