The Consultative Meeting of Positive Women's Network in SAARC region

17-May-2011 - 18-May-2011

Venue : Thimphu, Bhutan

Participation By Special Invitation Only

SAARC Consultation of Positive Women’s Networks

Women are disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic in Asia, both economically and socially. Women currently constitute about 30% of 5 million people living with HIV in Asia, and the proportion of women among people living with HIV continues to rise. Women often bear disproportional burdens of the epidemic. When the husband gets infected with HIV and becomes severely ill, it is often the wife who bears most burdens. She often single-handedly provides constant care and even reduces her own food or other consumptions to pay for medical expenses and make ends meet. In many places, she is falsely accused of infecting her husband. These disproportionate burdens continue even after the wife gets to know that she is also infected, and a priority is given to the husband for treatment, medicines and nutrition. Often women do not correct information or knowledge on where to turn for support.
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The crucial role played by civil society organisation, especially those focusing on women’s issues, in meeting these gaps cannot be overemphasised. The UNAIDS Action Framework for Women and Girls highlights that  “HIV- positive women’s organisations, women’s organisations and individual women, in partnership with governments are essential actors in AIDS response”. Providing a range of services from psychosocial support to livelihood support, the organisations/networks is a crucial lifeline for people living with HIV. The most experienced amongst them is the Positive Women’s Network in India established in 1995 with the aim of improving the quality of life for women and children living with HIV. Following PWN a number of networks of positive women have been formed in SAARC the most recent of which is Sri Lanka’s Positive Women’s network.

The objective of the consultation is to bring together positive women’s networks, networks working on HIV and/or gender issues, governments and donor agencies to:
  • Share emerging good practices and challenges faced by positive women and their network;
  • Identify key opportunities, obstacles to  overcome in creating an enabling environment in which women, can achieve Universal Access;
  • Map way forward for sustainable engagement of the networks in the region.
The consultation will contribute to creating a sustainable forum for positive women’s networks in the SAARC region, with support from the SAARC Secretariat, UNDP and member states.