Also available in: Español
By: Constanza Armas
On 14 September, Women4GF and the LAC Platform held a webinar, the first to be held entirely in Spanish. Through virtual and regional meetings, the webinar aimed to increase women’s participation in the grants and processes of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GF).
Ángela León, Global Coordinator of W4GF, opened the event with some contextual remarks, focusing on gender-based violence, and noting that one in three women has experienced some form of violence in her lifetime. She also observed that GF grants need to strengthen “community engagement as a right and a tool to channel civil society input in the preparation, development, implementation and monitoring of projects and their impact on health determinants.”
The speaker urged participants to engage and contribute from diverse positions and views. Using her organization as an example, she affirmed that “in W4GF, we are about 250 volunteers, activists and advocates from 62 countries involved in the implementation and accountability of the Global Fund processes“.
Anuar Luna from the LAC Platform highlighted the change in the approach of the GF in this GC7, where community participation and social dialogue are particularly central to engagement. Engagement, he said, should be present from the beginning, from the very identification of priorities and the inclusion of programmatic activities that will then become grants. “In other words, this is a critical point where the community has the opportunity to say ‘I would like to see this in the grant’,” he pointed out.
The idea, without any sense of redundancy, is that women in general, and young women in particular, have an equal opportunity to present their needs. For example, it is expected that a gender and equity approach will be used to engage female health workers. It is also likely that a situational analysis will be conducted to understand the key challenges related to gender, communities and rights, and to answer the questions: Where are the gaps? Where are we starting from? What was left unfinished from the previous grant?
Luna presented some of the findings of the Technical Review Panel during Windows 1 and 2, highlighting the need to include gender and human rights issues, as mentioned above. Among the findings, he mentioned that budgets should also have this inclusive and political perspective, and that there is a need to improve access to data that allows for an intersectional assessment of the different needs of each population.
Karen Dunaway, from ICW, echoed the above, noting that the Global Fund Strategy (2023-2028) recognizes gender and rights as an integral part of ending the three diseases. However, a consultation conducted by this organization in July 2023, which received 81 responses from 23 countries in 9 global regions, revelaed that only one of the 46 funding requests for the 2020-2022 allocation cycle prioritized gender assessment in its request.
These reviews confirm what was discussed at the meeting: they reflect the limited engagement of women in general, and young women in particular, which means that the structural barriers to overcome are not visible and lack transparency. “As a result, opportunities to improve the work design are lost,” said the speaker. In the region, the problem is compounded by a lack of access to services such as the Internet and unaddressed language barriers.
For these reasons, Dunaway advocated the need to invest in responses targeting women and improve coordination and collaboration between women’s networks, civil society and decision-making spaces.
Webinars like this one, created with the close participation of young, trans and adult women from different countries in the region, are a safe space to consolidate this last point. This webinar was a wonderful opportunity for exchange that we hope can be expanded and, as Meury Vera from Ecuador mentioned, bring more women together in future opportunities to “weave a new leadership with the political and social participation of us women“.