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Gender Mainstreaming: Mainspring Of AIDS Prevention

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Gender Mainstreaming: Mainspring Of AIDS Prevention
Anirudha Alam

With a view to attaining gender equality, gender mainstreaming plays a vital role as an effective strategy for making both women's and men's participation, sharing and experience integral dimension in policy making, program implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Mainstreaming the gender perspective, it is easy to bring about the process for stimulating the gender awareness being internalized in any planned action in any area of development and at all levels. Since HIV/AIDS is not just a health issue and impacting widely on every aspect of life, it should be prevented through developing both short and long-term gender-sensitive strategies from community to national level.

According to the 2005 national HIV household survey, one in three women aged 30-34 years were living with HIV, as were one in four men aged 30-39 years in South Africa. Present average life expectancy (at birth) for women in Zimbabwe is now among the lowest in the world: 34 years. It is estimated to be 37 years for men (WHO, 2006). So it is significant to note that to combat HIV/AIDS epidemic, we have to ensure women empowerment stamping out gender discrimination through gender mainstreaming at any rate.

Prostitution has been mushrooming in Asia due to deteriorating economic condition in this region. Young girls and women having lack of educational and economic opportunities are being driven to the big cities in the hope of earning their livelihood. Sometimes they are involved in such risky behaviors as prostituting themselves being trapped. They are lured into the job by the offer of attractive salary that they are engaged into sex industry by men whom they trust. So HIV/AIDS prevention program internalized by gender mainstreaming should be through a framework integrating social mobilization, social sensitization activities like advocacy, livelihood skill development training and creating the scope for self employment, providing necessary assistance to indigenous group, ensuring legal as well as financial assistance.

Gender mainstreaming, very much efficient and equitable way of using existing resources for containing the spread of HIV/AIDS, may make different development endeavors focus properly on the pragmatic needs of the whole population of a nation. It ensures a framework for developing and implementing policies, programs and legislation as the corner stone of sustainable development. Involving gender analysis, the framework assists to reveal, classify and integrate women's and men's different social contribution, relationships, commitment, realities and economic circumstances.

As per the findings of an in-depth research entitled 'Stepping Stone to AIDS Prevention in Bangladesh through Gender Mainstreaming' conducted by Earth Foundation, "Women should be empowered by way of income generating activities. After being self-reliant, they will be capable to fight for their rights coupled with ensuring their participation in development activities. Consequently malnutrition, maternal mortality rate, infant mortality rate and overall the vulnerability to STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and AIDS will be reduced significantly."

Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation's reveal extremely high levels of infections among adolescent girls, which are higher than those for boys. This is mainly because of the fact that at young age, boys have sex with girls of similar age, while girls have relations with older men, who are more likely to be infected. Sexual harassment of schoolgirls by older men sometime may be the cause of HIV or STI infection. Poverty also drives many adolescent girls to accept relationships with 'sugar daddies' (older men who are prepared to give money, goods or favors in return for sex).

Guiding, designing and implementing the process of mainstreaming gender into all areas of action research, gender management system (GMS) always intends to widen the incorporation of gender awareness into all organizational policies, programs and projects sapping the impact of HIV/AIDS. In accordance with the spirit and principles of broad-based community approach, gender-inclusive environment is automatically groomed to enrich the ability of community based interventions to direct and coordinate gender mainstreaming efforts in the area of HIV/AIDS.

It is hoped that advancing the goal of gender equality and equity in addressing the HIV/AIDS pandemic from a multi-sectoral perspective comes in to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS fruitfully. If women and girls have adequate access to sexual and reproductive health services they would be stirred up to adopt healthier sexual behavior. Women and girls need information and education, skills, access to technologies, economic resources, social capital as well as the opportunity. As a result they have a voice in decision-making at all levels as a whole.

Ref: UNDP, WHO, UNAIDS, World Bank

Anirudha Alam
AIDS Researcher
183, Lane 2, Eastern Road, New DOHS
Mohakhali, Dhaka 1206

E-mail: anirudha.alam@gmail.com


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