Gender Equality Experts Criticise Implementation of Global Fund’s GE Strategy

23 Oct 2013

Participants in a multilateral workshop on gender equality have chastised the Global Fund and its stakeholders for their failure to prioritise and implement programmes to support women, or to go far enough in helping to lift the barriers keeping women and girls from accessing comprehensive, quality health services.

These failures have had particularly dire consequences in sub-Saharan Africa, where about 60% of new HIV infections are among women and girls, participants said.

About 35 people representing 20 countries gathered in Geneva in July for the workshop hosted by AIDS Strategy, Advocacy and Policy (ASAP) and the ATHENA network. A report on the outcomes of the workshop was released recently and is available here.

Workshop participants said that there has been a lack of effective action despite the fact that the Global Fund's Gender Equality Strategy (GES) has been in place since 2008. Participants said that the strategy was “commendably progressive on paper, especially in the world of international development,” but that the GES has not been adequately costed or budgeted, that its implementation has been limited, and that no adequate communications strategy has been launched to explain or promote it.

In their report, the participants said it was not surprising that “many people remain unaware of the existence of the GES and the importance assigned to addressing gender equality through the Global Fund.”

At least three evaluations of the implementation of the GES to date have shown that it has significantly failed to meet its goals, the workshop report found.

One of the purposes of the meeting was to inform discussions by the Fund’s Strategy, Investment and Impact Committee (SIIC) which has been reviewing the GES. Workshop participants urged the SIIC to require Global Fund reporting to include sex- and age-disaggregated data; to ensure that the Global Fund Secretariat has sufficient resources to implement and monitor the GES; to require all country coordinating mechanisms (CCMs) to have gender focal points; and to require that all concept notes contain a gender analysis.

In addition, participants recommended that key performance indicators be developed for implementation of the GES; that an ongoing independent evaluation of GES implementation be conducted; and that the Secretariat implement a global and national communications strategy regarding the GES specifically, and gender issues more generally.

As well, participants said that gender training for members of country coordinating mechanisms should be required, not simply recommended (as at present).

Finally, workshop participants said that the Global Fund should review the inclusion of “women and girls” in the definition of key populations. Participants were concerned that the inclusion diluted and limited efforts to respond to key gender-related issues.

See “It’s About Time the Global Fund Implemented Its Gender Equality Strategy,” a GFO commentary by David Garmaise, posted today.

See also “Global Fund Programmes Are Far from Being Gender Transformative” a GFO commentary written by Robin Gorna, director of ASAP, in December 2012.

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