Women & Girls

The Global Fund / Karin Schermbrucker

Women and girls continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV, TB and malaria. Gender inequality, discrimination, violence, limited access to education and a lack of tailored services inhibit women’s and girls’ access to health care and fuel new infections.

Despite great progress made against HIV globally, adolescent girls and young women continue to be disproportionately at risk of new HIV infections. Worldwide, nearly 1,000 young women and girls are infected with HIV every day.

While TB generally strikes more men than women, it remains among the top five causes of death for women between age 15 and 44 in low- and middle-income countries. As for malaria, pregnant women are particularly susceptible to the disease. Potentially fatal for the woman, it can also cause miscarriage, low birth weight or premature births.

Biomedical interventions such as access to treatment and mosquito nets, while urgent and necessary, are not sufficient to reduce women’s vulnerability to HIV, TB and malaria. Only structural transformations – social, political and cultural – will end the spread of the diseases.

The Global Fund / Karin Schermbrucker

To end HIV, keep girls in school

If we invest in girls’ schooling, health benefits will follow. A better-educated girl is less likely to get HIV, and more likely to have control over her body and be able to make her own choices about when or if she will marry or have children. And it not only makes a difference for her, it makes a difference for generations to come. Her children are more likely to survive infanthood, more likely to be vaccinated and more likely to go to school themselves.

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Rising against the odds

19-year old Kgantsho Makegata leads weekly meetings at the RISE Young Women’s Club in South Africa. The clubs provide a safe space for young women to share peer-to-peer experiences on sexual health, gender-based violence and HIV. This is one of many programs that target the needs of adolescent girls and young women in South Africa, and with the support of the Global Fund, South Africa launched a national campaign in 2015 to address the high prevalence of HIV among adolescent girls and young women.

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The Global Fund / Alexia Webster
The Global Fund / Vincent Becker

Life on pause

Anastasia is a regular teenager in all ways but one. She has multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. She still chats with her friends on social media, cuddles her cat and goes for walks in her neighborhood. But in many ways, her life is on pause – no school, no work – while she is on treatment.

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Young women at the epicenter of HIV

The world has cut the number of AIDS-related deaths in half since the peak in 2005. But in many countries, HIV infections remain extremely high among key populations and among adolescent girls and young women. Globally, nearly 1,000 girls and young women are infected with HIV every day.

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Justice Mukheli represented by Red Hot Ops

Investments in women and girls

Addressing gender and human rights barriers is an integral part of the Global Fund strategy. We have steadily increased our investments in programs designed to meet the unique needs of women and girls.

In 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa we increased our investments to reduce HIV incidence among adolescent girls and young women by more than five-fold. An innovative matching funds program launched in 2017 used US$55 million to support countries to invest an additional US$140 million toward programs aimed at addressing structural barriers, promoting behavior change and increasing access to biomedical interventions among adolescent girls and young women.

The Global Fund created the “HER Voice” fund to support adolescent girls and young women in those same 13 focus countries through the provision of small grants to community-based groups to overcome barriers to participation in Global Fund-related and relevant country processes. Learn more

Our investments support women and girls in gaining access to health services. In Afghanistan, the Global Fund is investing in female community health nurses, supporting them to deliver TB prevention and care to women in remote communities who otherwise cannot visit health facilities without the escort of a male relative. In Lesotho, the Global Fund has invested in the development of National Guidelines for Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV, as well as in integrating sexual and reproductive health with HIV services so that women can access both services in one place. Our investments in comprehensive sexual health education have increased significantly with investments of over US$35 million in nearly 40 countries.

Other investments focus on education, which can be a powerful tool in preventing HIV among adolescent girls.

The Global Fund / Karin Schermbrucker
In countries where the Global Fund invests
In countries where the Global Fund invests
The Global Fund / John Rae

Women and decision-making

The Global Fund strongly supports efforts to address gender inequalities. This starts with an analysis of the role of gender in the epidemics and in each country context as an obligatory part of the funding request. We are seeing a significant improvement in how countries are addressing gender-related barriers to health.

More women are getting involved in the design and implementation of programs. At the country level, more than 40% of decision-makers in grant committees are women. Country Coordinating Mechanisms have guidelines for expertise on gender and for striving toward equal representation of men and women in Global Fund-related decision-making.

The Global Fund / David O’Dwyer

Saybatou's life mission

Malaria is the biggest killer of children under the age of 5 in sub-Saharan Africa. During the rainy season – July to October – Saybatou Moussa and other community health workers go door-to-door to give preventive antimalarial medicine to young children in the city of Maradi, Niger.

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Saving lives, transforming gender roles in Ethiopia

As one of the 38,000 frontline health extension workers spread across the country, Tibre’s job is to trek dirt paths and knock on doors with the single-minded mission of stopping diseases from occurring and spreading. She and her fellow health extension workers are bringing access to health care to the homes of underserved rural communities out of reach of bricks and mortar health clinics.

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The Global Fund / Petterik Wiggers
The Global Fund / Sam Wolson

Beyond the cut

Lutgard Oketch raised her finger and used it to mimic a penis. She sat surrounded by roughly three dozen men, most of them bikers, who run motorbike taxis in Nyanza, western Kenya. With a job title of a “circumcision mobilizer,” she traverses villages in Siaya County in Nyanza calling men who haven’t been circumcised to take up the practice as a way to protect themselves against HIV.

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Focus On Ending HIV Among Adolescent Girls and Young Women

In sub-Saharan Africa, twice as many girls and young women are infected with HIV as their male counterparts; in the hardest-hit countries, it’s six times more.

Learn more about the challenge, the solution and the Global Fund in our report:

Focus On Ending HIV Among Adolescent Girls and Young Women
download in English | Español | Français

Learn more about HER: HIV Epidemic Response.

HER

Published 28 February 2020