On December 01, 2022, World AIDS Day, UNFPA and the young women leaders under the Education Plus Initiative’s Nerve Centre collaborated to commemorate the 16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence, (GBV). The event provided a platform for young women advocates to emphasize that violence is both a cause and consequence of HIV.
Held virtually, the INERELA+ Acting Executive Director Munya Mandipaza joined hands with young women leaders, in all their diversities, to explore inequalities that continue to perpetuate girls’ vulnerabilities to HIV, while at the same time proposing solutions that work. Data from UNAIDS on the global HIV response reveals that during the last two years of COVID-19 and other global crises, progress against the HIV pandemic faltered, and resources shrunk, placing millions of lives at risk.
According to the UNAIDS 2022 Global report, women and girls in sub-Saharan Africa continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, accounting for 63% of the region’s new HIV infections in 2021. Six in seven new HIV infections among adolescents aged 15–19 are among girls. HIV infections are three times higher among adolescent girls and young women (15 to 24 years) than among males of the same age.
Munya emphasized that the inequalities which perpetuate and fuel the AIDS pandemic are not inevitable, as we can tackle them through practical action.
“Economic, social, cultural, and legal inequalities must be addressed as a matter of urgency,” she urged. She emphasized that it was imperative that world leaders act with bold and accountable leadership and that all of us, everywhere, must do all we can, to help tackle inequalities.
In order to keep everyone safe and to protect everyone’s health, we need to “Equalize.” “No one is safe until everyone is safe,” this is a lesson learned from the global pandemic.