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The National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality, released by the White House in October 2021, is the first whole-of-government approach outlining a comprehensive agenda to advance gender equity and equality in domestic and foreign policy. USAID is committed to addressing the unique needs of women, men, girls, boys, and LGBTQIA+ individuals – of all ages and abilities – so they are able to utilize HIV prevention and treatment services; protect themselves and practice healthy behaviors; exercise their rights; and live free from violence, stigma, and discrimination.
USAID prohibits sexual misconduct, including harassment, exploitation or abuse of any kind among staff or implementing partners. USAID’s Action Alliance For Preventing Sexual Misconduct (AAPSM) is working to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse in USAID programs, and also prevent and address workplace sexual misconduct, including among implementing parnters. USAID’s Child Safeguarding Policy and Award Requirements for Implementing Partners are designed to prevent and prohibit all forms of child abuse, exploitation, and neglect in USAID-funded awards. USAID’s PEPFAR-funded programs have a duty to: 1) ensure that programs and services do no harm; 2) put in place measures to enhance the safety and security of clients; and 3) provide response services for survivors of violence.
Barriers and Solutions to Addressing Gender Inequality and Gender-Based Violence
Addressing violence and inequality throughout PEPFAR programs, across the HIV clinical cascade and HIV prevention, is essential to advancing human rights and reaching sustained HIV epidemic control. USAID’s approach is grounded in World Health Organization (WHO) clinical and policy guidelines, including the provision of first-line support to survivors of violence.
USAID’s Strategic Vision for Advancing Gender Equality and Preventing and Responding to Gender-Based Violence in HIV Services
USAID’s Office of HIV/AIDS strategy to address gender inequality and gender-based violence (GBV), including violence against children, is rooted in USAID and PEPFAR priorities, and emphasizes the seamless integration of interventions to address GBV and promote gender equality across HIV prevention programming and the clinical cascade.
Incidents of GBV and violence against children have sharply increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, forming a “shadow pandemic” that threatens efforts to achieve and sustain HIV epidemic control. USAID is committed to scaling up GBV prevention, case identification, and response efforts across all areas of PEPFAR programming to support survivors’ ability to access HIV and GBV response services. USAID has provided training on GBV first-line support (LIVES) and violence against children prevention and response to its staff and implementing partners to advance these efforts.
USAID emphasizes quality for all of its HIV/GBV services and encourages innovation to identify gender sensitive and community-specific approaches to prevent and respond to GBV and advance efforts to achieve HIV epidemic control. This has been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, as USAID has identified and implemented adaptations to its clinical GBV-response service delivery to respond to the unique needs of survivors during COVID-19 lockdowns, travel restrictions, and school closures. These adaptations have included expanding the use of virtual counseling and hotlines, transportation assistance to help survivors reach services, and decentralized services using mobile outreach to deliver care and support to survivors.
Sustainability is a key priority for USAID’s integrated HIV/GBV programming. USAID works with national governments, local partners, and indigenous and civil society organizations to enhance the sustainability of PEPFAR’s GBV interventions to facilitate lasting and gender transformative change that improves the lives, health, and safety of survivors of violence and people living with HIV.
What Does Success Look Like?
USAID’s strategy to address gender inequality and GBV includes growing the program, supporting quality and promoting innovation, and sustaining USAID’s investments as a key component to achieving HIV epidemic control. Essential to this strategy is ensuring that all clinical partners are able to identify and respond to cases of violence. There are multiple means of measuring the success USAID’s HIV/GBV programming, which includes but is not limited to:
For more information about USAID’s PEPFAR-funded gender-based violence prevention, case identification, and response efforts, please see USAID’s Advancing Gender Equality and Preventing and Responding to Gender-Based Violence.