Close-up: Promoting Gender Equality in HIV and AIDS

Photo of HIV/AIDS Health Clinic
Diana Prieto/USAID

Gender-Based Violence

In the broadest terms, “gender-based violence” is violence that is directed at individuals based on their biological sex, gender identity, or perceived adherence to culturally-defined expectations of what it means to be a woman and man, girl and boy. It includes physical, sexual, and psychological abuse; threats; coercion; arbitrary deprivation of liberty; and economic deprivation, whether occurring in public or private. GBV is rooted in economic, social, and political inequalities between men and women. GBV can occur throughout the lifecycle, from infancy through childhood and adolescence, the reproductive years and into old age (Moreno 2005), and can affect women and girls, and men and boys, including transgender individuals. Specific types of GBV include (but are not limited to) female infanticide; early and forced marriage, “honor” killings, and female genital cutting/mutilation; child sexual abuse and exploitation; trafficking in persons; sexual coercion, harassment and abuse; neglect; domestic violence; economic deprivation, and elder abuse.

(Adapted from the United States Strategy for the Prevention and Response to Gender-based Violence)

Women, Girls and Gender Equality

Through the Global Health Initiative, the United States is helping partner countries improve health outcomes, with a particular focus on improving the health of women, newborns and children. GHI reaffirms the U.S. Government’s commitment to gender equality through its principle on Women, Girls and Gender Equality. USAID has played a key leadership role in developing and operationalizing the principle through participation in an inter-agency taskforce, review of GHI country strategies and development of indicators for the monitoring and evaluation of effective programs.

A Supportive Policy Environment for Gender Equality

Past Gender Special Initiatives

Three PEPFAR Gender Central Initiatives, totaling over $8 million over 3 years and implemented through USAID, have already been carried out: the Male Norms Initiative, the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Initiative and the Vulnerable Girls Initiative. Results include a step-by-step guide for setting up post-rape care services, a manual for working with vulnerable girls at various levels and a guide to working with men.

  • The Vulnerable Girls Initiative sought to address adolescent girls’ vulnerability to HIV at multiple levels: structural, community and family/peer/individual. It was implemented in Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique.
  • The Male Norms Initiative built the capacity of organizations and institutions to implement programs that address gender norms affecting HIV and AIDS prevention, care and treatment. An evaluation was carried out using the Gender Equitable Men (GEM) Scale in Ethiopia and Namibia.
  • The Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Initiative sought to strengthen health services for survivors of sexual violence, increase referrals from health facilities to other support services and facilitate access to services by expanding linkages between communities and health services. It was implemented in South Africa, Uganda and Rwanda.

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Technical Resources

Program Guide for Integrating GBV Prevention and Response in PEPFAR Programs
This guide serves as a tool for program managers to not only begin to address GBV within their programs, but also to plan for greater integration and coordination within country teams when designing work plans and budgets.

Resources for the Clinical Management of Children and Adolescents Who Have Experienced Sexual Violence
These technical considerations and accompanying job aids serve as a guide for medical providers to address and respond to the unique needs and rights of children and adolescents who have experienced sexual violence and exploitation. These resources focus on the delivery of clinical post-rape care services and include information on establishing services tailored to the unique needs of children and adolescents, preparing for and performing a head-to-toe physical examination, conducting forensics evidence collection and ensuring follow-up care and referrals for psychosocial and community support services.

What Works for Women and Girls: Evidence for HIV and AIDS Programming
What Works is a comprehensive review of data from HIV and AIDS interventions for women and girls in nearly 100 countries. What Works highlights successful interventions for a range of women and girls living with or at risk of HIV: adolescents; adult women; sex workers; women who use drugs; orphans; women who do not know their serostatus; women who want to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to their infants; women living with HIV who have an unmet need for contraception; women living with HIV who are co-infected with malaria, tuberculosis or hepatitis C; and women who provide the bulk of care and support to their families.

A Compendium of Programs in Africa

This compendium describes how 31 programs in Africa are using gender strategies to improve HIV services and reduce vulnerability to HIV infection.

Gender Strategies in Concentrated Epidemics Case Study Series
A series of nine case studies that provide an in-depth look at HIV programs working with and for key populations in South and Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

Photo of women and children
Rajal Thaker, Courtesy of Photoshare

Data and Measurement
A series of gender-focused data and monitoring and evaluation resources through MEASURE Evaluation and MEASURE DHS.

Interagency Gender Working Group
A network of NGOs, implementing agencies, USAID and other organizations and donors that promote gender equity.

Gender and Health Toolkit
This toolkit contains resources and methodologies for integrating gender in health programs.


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Last updated: September 11, 2013

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