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Making the Law Work for Women and Girls in the Context of HIV

Apr 7, 2020

This publication proposes steps which governments, civil society, United Nations entities and other stakeholders can take to make the law work for women and girls’ empowerment and gender equality in the context of HIV.

AIDS-related illnesses are the leading cause of death among women aged 15-49. Every day, an estimated 460 adolescent girls become infected with HIV. Gender inequality continues to contribute significantly to the spread of HIV leaving women and girls more vulnerable. Gender discriminatory laws, harmful traditional practices and gender-based violence reinforce unequal power dynamics between men and women, with adolescent girls and young women being particularly disadvantaged. Laws can either support efforts to fight HIV or present barriers to women’s and girls’ ability to access HIV and health services. Laws that sanction violence against women perpetuate gender inequality and negatively affect the HIV response for women and girls. As do criminal laws on HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, choice of work, recreational activities and access to sexual and reproductive health services.

UNDP, on behalf of the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) convened an independent Global Commission on HIV and the Law, to produce evidence-informed recommendations to promote effective responses to the HIV epidemic. The Commission’s report and supplement published in 2012 and 2018 respectively made important findings and recommendations with specific chapters focusing on women and girls and key populations. UNDP, in partnership with the UNAIDS Co-sponsors and Secretariat and civil society, works with governments on enabling legal, policy and regulatory environments for evidence and rights-based HIV responses including for women and girls.

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