This week, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN began its two-week long gathering of government representatives and women’s rights advocates from around the world. Every year at CSW, participants debate and discuss urgent issues of global gender equality, and MADRE continues to be a presence in these discussions.
This morning, I attended an event featuring Fatima Ahmed (pictured), Executive Director of Zenab for Women in Development, titled The Global World through Women’s Eyes and Voice. She was joined by a panel of African women who had all started their own organizations and had done tremendous work to improve the lives of women and encourage peace in Africa.
Their conversation turned on the threat of HIV/AIDS in Africa and particularly the increased feminization of the epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 3 in 5 adults living with HIV are women. They spoke about the unequal burden of care-giving responsibilities placed on African women and girls. In countries around the world most impacted by this epidemic, up to 90% of home care is provided by women and girls. They also highlighted the CSW theme for this year, emphasizing the need for equal sharing of resources and responsibility among men and women to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS.
With Fatima's experience of working with women in Sudan, she regularly encounters these issues. She discussed the problems of HIV/AIDS in Sudan, describing the current rates of HIV/AIDS in Sudan as unimaginable 20 years ago. Sudan’s risk factors include its shared borders with countries that have high rates of infections such as Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda, the high concentration of displaced person and refugees in Sudan, and the fact that the majority of displaced people are women. Fatima also pointed out the fact that in Sudan, many displaced women have often been victims of rape and sexual violence, leading to higher rates of infection.
Zenab for Women in Development’s efforts to educate women about HIV/AIDS and to de-stigmatize the disease represent crucial efforts to advance women’s rights and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in Sudan. To find out more about their work, click here.