Using empowerment and social vigilance to reduce the vulnerability of women, adolescents and girls in Peru to HIV and AIDS
Presented by Enrique Chavez (United States).
AID FOR AIDS International, Advocacy, New York, United States
Issues: In Peru there is one woman living with HIV or AIDS for every 2.5 men with this condition. However, participation of groups working on behalf of women, adolescents and girls living with HIV or AIDS (WAGLHA) in political and health processes remains limited. Despite many agreements aimed at protecting these populations and their rights, most of these are not executed or enforced appropriately.
Description: AID FOR AIDS International (AFAI) created the initiative of Observatorio Mujer y VIH/SIDA (OM) in November 2008 as an effort to make visible the diverse factors increasing the vulnerability of women, adolescents and girls to the HIV epidemic. Through three Regional Macro-Observers or 'surveillance boards' and its online portal, OM carries social vigilance over the state's policies and the national response. OM also works to empower WAGLHA, sexual workers and women in general in order to increase their participation in spaces of discussion and decision-making.
Lessons learned: OM has received the financial support from UNPFA and HIVOS. In just over a year it has positioned itself as a leading space for women and adolescents to share personal stories and experiences and it has empowered 42 women to actively participate in several studies and other vigilance-related activities. Through OM's spaces and our experience in vigilance we have been able to identify a variety of key factors requiring more attention by the government: women as vital centerpiece for family unity, sexual abuse as main factor of vulnerability, shame as a barrier to reporting sexual abuse and their health condition, need to initiate sexual education at an early age in girls and teenagers.
Next steps: During a second stage we aim to increase the training, empowerment and participation of our target populations in vigilance and decision-making processes. We also seek to expand the implementation of OM to other countries in the region.
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