5 Young African Feminists Reflect on what it would take to End AIDS:-
#WhatWomenWant campaign is a collaborative effort launched by the ATHENA network. The Campaign aims to engage activists and advocates in women’s civil society & feminist organizations to contribute towards renewed leadership and drive momentum toward realizing the vision, priorities and rights of women and girls in all of their diversity and to end HIV as a public health emergency. The objective of #WhatWomenWant is to utilize the political moment at hand presented by the newly adopted SDGs and the upcoming High Level Meeting on AIDS to ensure that women’s priorities for HIV prevention; freedom from violence, an end to GBV and sexual and reproductive health and rights are amplified and reflected in the Political Declaration to be produced at the High Level Meeting. ATHENA and partners aims for this global virtual conversation to place women and girls squarely at the center of all agendas, to provide a platform for operationalizing gender equality in the HIV movement and outside of it, and to catalyze cross-movement dialogue and action toward what truly works for women and girls in their diversity.

  1. What do you see as the current gaps in the HIV response for women and girls and what are key barriers and enablers to accessing HIV/SRHR services?

The greatest barrier to accessing sexual reproductive health in my country is the cost of health care. Very few women and girls in Kenya can afford to pay a visit to a gynaecologist, gynaecologists are very expensive. The other thing is stigma especially in matters related to HIV.  Many communities still demonize people living with HIV so other people find it safer to stay without accessing services and treatment other than be vilified by the community once they know.  Sadly there are so many instances where doctor patient confidentiality is breached- Diana Okello- Kenya

  1. What effective strategies that have worked in your community or setting to prevent and address GBV in all its forms & What laws do you think need to be strengthened or repealed to help prevent and address GBV, and to protect the rights of women and girls in all of our diversity?

The strategies that are working are the constant community engagement, various online and offline discussions and education. In particular grassroots community movements, various publications and activism have been able to frame some of women’s concerns in a meaningful manner. The most important thing lies in acquiring power -we need African intersectional feminist to access and be present in various decision making spaces be it in the civic, public and entrepreneurial domain. There needs to be a shift in a community oriented government as opposed to an office caricature- Zemdena Abebe, Ethiopia.

  1. How can young women be supported to break structural barriers that hinder the progress towards gender equality

It all starts with quality education for young girls and women. Studies have demonstrated that educating women and girls is the single most effective strategy to ensure the well-being and health of children, and the long-term success of developing economies. In Sub-Saharan Africa and everywhere around the globe, girls and women continue to suffer from a lack of economic opportunity, inadequate health care and education, harmful and discriminatory social and traditional practices such as early marriage, sexual violence and other aspects of marginalization. If young women are given the opportunity obtain quality education, they will be able to break structural barriers that hinder their progress towards gender equality. There are countless barriers that hinder achievement of gender equality all embedded in patriarchal and misogynistic cultural practices. If we are able to deal with these deep-rooted cultural practices and norms that perpetuate inequality we will make great strides towards achievement of gender equality- Isabella Muthoni, Kenya

  1. Why do we need a feminist HIV Response?

I believe that we need a feminist public health response in general. Too many women fall victim to an unresponsive public health system, mostly because women do not set their own health agendas. When women begin to set their own health priorities, and also begin to find their own solutions to the health problems they face, we will begin to have women be part of their own solutions, and not just objects without an input- Dr. Ntlotleng Mabena- South Africa

  1. The world will meet in June at the High Level Meeting on AIDS 2016, what is one of thing you would like to see come out of this meeting? (Especially that it happens after adoption of SDGs)

Resources is a word that is important  in achieving desired outcomes in the HIV response as well as the SDGs. Inadequate funding has hindered women from actively participating in initiatives on HIV . These initiatives vary from Conferences, High Level Meetings, advocacy platforms, and programming. There is urgent need to mobilize resources to strengthen engagement of women and girls in the HIV response- Nyasha Sithole, Zimbabwe
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