The need for greater clarity and stronger commitments on political accountability is neither new nor marginal to the global discourse. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon emphasizes the need to ensure that mutual accountability in the AIDS response translates commitments to action, as one of five recommendations in his progress report in 2011.
Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic most stakeholders have agreed that leadership plays a key role in the response. In 2011, there is a general consensus that individual human rights, addressing gender inequality, respecting sexual diversity, and Universal Access are key principles. Accountability too is increasingly on the agenda as is the idea that general stakeholder participation is essential and that participation by people living with HIV and AIDS is critical (the GIPA principle). Following this the greater inclusion of marginalized and /or vulnerable groups is fundamental to successfully addressing not only the epidemiological issues but human rights issues too. Moreover this participation should not be limited to tokenism but reflect meaningful participation.
The Global Fund on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) has become the main source for funding programmes to fight these diseases and in particular to strengthening health systems to address these diseases.
In 2007, at the 16th Board Meeting the GFATM Board acknowledged the need to address gender issues with regard to all three diseases. Particular emphasis was placed on the vulnerability of women and girls and people marginalized because of their sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), predominantly referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT), as well as sex workers. As a response to this the Gender Equality Strategy and the Global Fund Strategy in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities were developed and adopted at the 18th Board Meeting of the GFATM in 2009. These strategies are intended to positively impact the policies and operations of GFATM with regard to GE and SOGI issues. Recognizing the fact that GE and SOGI groups have difficulty accessing and thus benefitting from GFATM grants, the strategy clearly demonstrates that there is a desire at GFATM to improve access for GE and SOGI groups at various levels of the GFATM grant process. Additionally, the strategy emphasizes that “SOGI-related health and rights work is strongly linked with work to empower women and girls” .
By means of the Country Coordinating mechanisms (CCMs) GFATM has intended to include representatives of governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, affected communities including women, girls and LGBT, private sector, technical specialists and academic institutions in guiding the response to the epidemic. Moreover, as per GFATM guidelines the CCMs are expected to have documented and transparent procedures of working.
Moreover the above GE and SOGI strategies both acknowledge the impact that CCMs can have on ensuring that gender equality and SOGI are more prioritized in project and proposal development at country level. “Because the Country Coordinating Mechanism is responsible for developing and submitting new requests for funding, it is pivotal in ensuring that gender equality is taken into account in country proposals.” The SOGI Strategy states that although GFATM’s CCM Guidelines “already include discussion of expertise and sensitivity to gender and marginalized populations, ….few organizations that focus exclusively on these issues or that were led by sex workers, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) individuals, or men who have sex with men were represented on Country Coordinating Mechanisms.”
Although this is recognised as being a global issue, all too often in Southern Africa, women, girls and LGBT people face even greater barriers to meaningful participation in the CCMs. For example the exclusion or neglect of SOGI issues by civil society organizations, due to their own homo-prejudice or lack of capacity. Another example would be the lack of adequate representation of women, especially lesbian or transgender women, in civil society seats as well as private sector, government and academic positions on the CCM.
Thus, the overall goal of this initiative is to increase the meaningful participation of women and girls as well as groups marginalized due to their sexual orientation and gender identity in funding mechanisms like GFATM. Meaningful participation of these groups is expected to make HIV, TB and Malaria programmes more effective, efficient, rights based and cost-effective.
In order to achieve this goal the projects aims are:
1. Increase GFATM and other funders, CCMs and grantee’s accountability to women, girls and LGBT people.
2. Increase mutual accountability at CCM level amongst participants.
3. Increase accountability of civil society to women, girls and LGBT people.
4. Promote greater engagement of women, girls and SOGI groups at country level in CCMs.
5. Develop capacity of women’s, girls and SOGI groups to meaningfully participate in CCMs.
Efforts will be made to influence other funding mechanisms like the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to support and resource programmes that integrate issues of women, girls and LGBT in an effective manner.
Apart from contributing to achievement of the MDGs, and GFATM’s own plans, this project speaks to AIDS Accountability’s own goals of improving the inclusion and prioritization of accountability in the discourse in health advocacy and research debates, that accountability-based advocacy becomes a core skill and capacity among AAI’s key partners in civil society and other stakeholder groups in the AIDS response.
Major activities to achieve these objectives include:
1. To assess and document the current levels of participation of women, girls and SOGI groups in CCMs and other such funding mechanisms including conducting research on to what degree the GE and SOGI strategies are being absorbed, who is promoting the strategies, what understanding women, girls and SOGI groups have of the two strategies and to what degree they are using them.
2. Needs assessment of CSOs and other stakeholders in relation to the participation of women, girls and SOGI groups in responses to interventions and programmes relating to the fight against HIV, TB and Malaria.
3. Connecting CBOs and other role players for collaboration in relation to integrated responses to the fight against HIV, TB and Malaria.
4. Building capacity of women, girls and SOGI groups and CBOs to participate effectively in GFATM processes at country level, including a better understanding of the two strategies and the action plans.
5. Advocating with policy makers, civil society organisations, public and private sector organisations on the importance of developing a model for participation of women, girls and LGBT with a view to positively impact the fight against HIV, TB and Malaria.
6. Conducting Accountability Literacy capacity building amongst all stakeholders.
AREA OF OPERATION
The project is aimed at the Southern Africa Region. The exploratory studies, consultations and literature review will be focused on Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa. From these five countries – three will be chosen to do intensive work. However, the learning will be shared with CSOs from other countries through electronic documents, reports, skills building workshops and learning events.
Click here to download the project brief.
Daniel Molokele, Deputy Executive Director, Rating Centre South Africa, daniel at aidsaccountability.org, Tel no +27 21 424 2057.
Phillipa Tucker, Executive Director, Rating Centre South Africa, phillipa at aidsaccountability.org, Tel no +27 21 424 2057.