We have two key strategic goals for realising our vision and mission:
Strategic Goal 1: Advocacy
To improve the lives of women living with HIV in the region through greater attention on our specific issues, resource mobilization and a policy and legal environment that respects and promotes women’s rights.
Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
The patriarchal nature of our region means that women in general are seen as unequal and inferior and struggle to attain their rights. Women living with HIV feel this oppression more acutely – especially in regard to bodily autonomy and their sexual and reproductive rights. There have been calls by many organisations to link HIV and sexual and reproductive rights and health (for example the Stop AIDS Alliance). Issues facing women living with HIV in the region include lack of access to safe and friendly SRH services, denial of services, forced and coerced sterilization and/or abortions and lack of cervical cancer services despite the link between women living with HIV and cervical cancer.
Based on our experiences and that of many other women in the region the focus for the next two years will be on:
To assert the right of women living with HIV to have control over their bodies in order to make choices about reproduction:
- Right to continue pregnancy if desired;
- Right to terminate pregnancy if desired;
- Ending of mandatory and forced sterilization; and
- Increase access to information on SRR and options.
The right to sexual autonomy, sexual integrity, and safety of the sexual body. This right involves the ability to make autonomous decisions about one's sexual life within a context of one's own personal and social ethics. It also encompasses control and enjoyment of our own bodies free from torture, mutilation and violence of any sort.
- Consciousness raising among women living with HIV to assert this right.
To increase access to cervical cancer diagnosis, treatment and care for women living with HIV in the region:
- Research and policy review in different countries;
- National and Regional advocacy for policy change and added resources; and
- Link with International efforts to realize cervical cancer as a defining opportunistic infection and to get the prominence it requires in order.
Violence Against Women Living With HIV and AIDS
Although the intersection of violence and HIV has been well articulated, the focus has been primarily on HIV as a consequence of violence. Research shows globally that women living with HIV are more likely to be on the receiving end of violence – in all aspects of their lives – in their intimate relationships, household, family, community and when seeking services from institutions such as the health system. Domestic violence as a result of disclosure has been widely reported, as has violence when women are sick and unable to fulfill the many roles they have in the household. On the other end of the scale, violence metered out by health care workers is often so severe that it impacts on women’s willingness to access health services.
Little or no attention is paid to violence against women living with HIV and this is evidenced by a lack of focus and resources in National AIDS Plans and Programmes. The issue is also not taken up by the HIV, women’s, or Gender based Violence sectors.
Given that violence is a daily reality of many of the ICWAP members, this will be a key focus of our work moving forward.
Highlight the experiences of violence experienced by women living with HIV in their intimate relationships, household, family, community and institutions such as health:
- Conduct national research to increase the understanding and evidence on which to base advocacy; and
- Conduct a regional campaign to highlight the issue of VAWLHIV.
To ensure that the issue of VAWLHIV forms part of reporting on gender issues at a regional and national level.
Eliminating Barriers to Accessing Safe and Equitable Treatment, Care and Support
Access to safe and equitable treatment, care and support are critical for all people living with HIV – men, women, boys and girls. However, women face specific challenges in access to quality treatment, care and support including issues around treatment that takes into account biological differences which impact on dosage and appropriateness of specific drugs, side effects, drug resistance and differences in opportunistic infections. Barriers to accessing treatment, care and support are also different for women – and many women are lost to follow up.
To ensure that regional and national guidelines for treatment, care and support are evidence based and take into account the specific needs and different needs of women living with HIV:
- Understand and address treatment side effects and drug resistance; and
- Understand and address barriers to treatment, care and support for women.
To ensure the meaningful involvement of women living with HIV in treatment, care and support (at an individual, national and regional level):
- Treatment literacy for women; and
- Ensure women are involved in treatment, care and support advocacy at all levels and that this increases a focus on women’s experiences and needs.
Strategic Goal 2: Movement Building
To develop a strong effective regional network with a diverse leadership that represents women living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific.
Our movement building focus for the next two years will be:
- Developing a cadre of strong leaders; and
- Developing the national networks.
National networks and groups of women living with HIV across the region are at very different stages of development. In a concentrated epidemic, where less attention is placed on women, it is a challenge to get women’s issues taken seriously and access to resources to mobilise and organize is limited. In many instances capacity is limited due to lack of prospects for women living with HIV – both within the HIV field as well as in society as a whole. The double oppression of being a women and living with HIV impacts on opportunities.
There is a small, but strong core of leaders across the countries in the region who are poised to develop the national networks and thus raise the voice and visibility of women living with HIV. The focus of ICWAP over the next two years is to grow the regional network through ensuring strong and united national networks and groups.
- To provide support at a national level to strengthen and grow existing and nascent networks based on needs identified at a country level;
- To develop a core of leaders who are able to represent the voices of women living with HIV of Asia Pacific at a national, regional and global level. Special attention will be paid to diversity – to ensure women living with HIV who have less of a voice currently are developed – this includes young women, migrant women, LBT women, sex workers, women with disabilities;
- To address the capacity needs of the regional network, focusing on current and up-coming leadership, through training, mentoring and support ;
- To assist in resource mobilisation for the region and national chapters.
How Will We Know We Have Been Successful?
We have purposefully developed ambitious plans for ICWAP because we believe that the passion and focus of women living with HIV in the region, coupled with the current political, economic and social climate is ripe for the emergence of the movement.
Sexual and Reproductive Health
- Members report fewer violations
- Increased consciousness amongst members on sexual and reproductive rights
- Greater attention and resources on cervical cancer.
Violence Against Women Living With HIV
- Deeper understanding on violence experienced by women living with HIV
- Violence against women living with HIV becomes part of the national and regional discourse
- Strategies to address violence against women living with HIV are integrated into national plans, funding proposals and policy.
Eliminating Barriers to Accessing Safe and Equitable Treatment, Care and Support
- Greater visibility of women’s voices and women’s issues in the treatment, care and support arena
- Demonstrable changes in access to appropriate treatment, care and support for women living with HIV.
Strong Regional and National Networks
- Increase in membership of ICWAP
- Skills development of ICWAP leadership results in more effective governance, leadership, and programming
- Increase in core and programmatic funding
- Implementation of support to national networks leads to one concrete change.