Generation Equality: our Making Waves commitment to intersectional feminist HIV leadership

26 years on from the Beijing Conference on Women, today is the start of the virtual Generation Equality Forum, co-hosted by UN Women and the Governments of France and Mexico. Generation Equality is a multi-stakeholder initiative to catalyse global commitments to achieve gender equality, through a five-year Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality.

What does the Acceleration Plan envision for 2026?

The newly-launched final version of the Acceleration Plan contains some exciting visions for 2026.

Action Coalition 1 on Gender-Based Violence centres an intersectional approach to addressing GBV against women and girls in all their diversity, defined as ‘a consideration of where gender intersects with other inequalities and oppressions including those experienced because of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, sex, age, ethnicity, indigeneity, migrant status, disability, religion, urban or rural status, HIV status, geographic location and other dimensions to produce unique experiences of violence. An intersectional approach goes beyond the recognition that of multiple forms of discrimination or oppression exist. It insists that impact of these oppressions cannot be viewed only as additive, but that experiences of inequality must be contextualized within an understanding of simultaneous, intersecting inequalities and forms of discrimination and oppression, that result in unique and compounded experiences of marginalization, exclusion and violence.’

Action Coalition 2 on Economic Justice and Rights: The vision of this AC is that ‘By 2026, economic justice and rights are guaranteed for women and girls, in all their diversity, including for adolescent girls, as for men and boys. Systems and structures are gender-responsive and ensure equitable, secure access to resources, services and decision-making; participation in gendertransformative enterprise and trade; promotion of non-discriminatory labour markets free of violence and harassment; a care economy that equitably shares and values care and domestic work; and resilience to economic shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Accountability is strengthened through gender-responsive economic laws and policies, sex-disaggregated data and gender statistics. Diverse women’s and girl’s voices are truly heard, and their leadership is a reality.’

Action Coalition 3 on Bodily Autonomy and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: This AC’s vision is that by 2026, ‘All people, particularly girls, adolescents, women, transgender and gender non-binary people in all their diversity are empowered to exercise their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and make autonomous decisions about their bodies free from coercion, violence, and discrimination. SRHR information, education and services are freely available, accessible, acceptable, and of high-quality. Girls’, women’s and feminist organizations and funds (including, among others, girl-and youth-led, disability-led, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, human rights defenders) and their allies are strengthened to advance SRHR. More governments promote, protect and invest in SRHR, including as part of Universal Health Coverage. Working across Action Coalitions, with multiple stakeholders and at all levels, we transform gender and social norms, promote gender equality applying an intersectional, intercultural, human rights-based approach and improve SRHR outcomes, leaving no one behind.’ We are disappointed to see that this Action Coalition makes no direct reference to HIV. However, it does explicitly support the SDG goal to end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases by 2030.

It will be important for HIV networks and organisations working on SRHR to claim space, recognition and resources within work done under this Action Coalition in the next five years, and in holding commitment-makers to account to ensure that catalytic action on violence also positively affects the lives of women, girls and gender-diverse people living with HIV.

Action Coalition 6 on Feminist Movements and Leadership: This is the real win from this progress. The vision for this AC is that ‘by 2026, feminist leaders and activists, women’s human rights defenders, and their movements and organizations, including, but not limited to those led by trans, intersex and nonbinary people, racialized people, indigenous women, women and persons with disabilities, women and persons living with and affected by HIV, young feminists, girls, sex workers and other historically marginalized people, regardless of their status before the law, are fully resourced and supported to become sustainable, can carry out their work without fear of reprisal, and advance gender equality, justice, peace, and human rights for all from an intersectional approach.’ What a vision… Imagine if all our networks and organisations were properly funded and supported! Life would change for so many people.

So far, commitments to Generation Equality total US$40 billion. The big question is how much of this will go to community and grassroots feminist organisations? How much will reach networks and organisations of women, girls and gender-diverse people living with HIV? Now the key is to hold UN Women and commitment-makers to account.

Our commitment

We felt it was important for Making Waves to also make a Generation Equality commitment, as an an international, intergenerational, intersectional feminist collective of women working together for common aims of gender equality, gender-based violence, HIV and sexual and reproductive rights, and for mutual exchange, collaboration and amplification of the work done by networks and organisations led by women, girls and gender-diverse people everywhere.

Making Waves commits to advocating for and taking intersectional feminist and gender-transformative approaches to our work on HIV, collectively and individually. We commit to:

  • Highlighting in our work the links between gender inequality, GBV, HIV, SRHR and bodily autonomy, for women, girls, trans and gender-diverse people.
  • Researching and advocating on: feminist leadership (including young feminists) and feminist movements in the HIV response; funding and support for feminist HIV leadership and movements; and the importance of feminist HIV leaders and movements within Generation Equality actions to catalyse change for gender equality.
  • Amplifying gender-transformative and intersectional feminist work on HIV of Salamander Trust (Global), 4M Mentor Mothers (UK), Positive Young Women Voices (Kenya), Jacquelyne Ssozi Foundation (Uganda), Young Positives (South Sudan), Sinar Sofia (Malaysia), and other feminist networks of women, girls and gender-diverse people living with and affected by HIV.

Internally, we commit to:

  • Sharing intersectional and intergenerational feminist reflection, learning and insights amongst members of the Making Waves network, especially in relation to the links between HIV, VAWG, GBV, SRHR and bodily autonomy, mental health, and feminist leadership and movements.
  • Collectively and individually committing to feminist values and intersectional and intergenerational approaches in our work on HIV, especially in relation to the links between HIV, VAWG, GBV, SRHR and bodily autonomy, mental health, and feminist leadership and movements.

Making Waves is not a funded network, so our financial commitment is 0. However, recognising that as women we are often expected to work for free, and our time and expertise is consistently undervalued and underfunded, we feel it is important to estimate the value of our contribution. Merely costing the time we spend on exchanging within the Making Waves network, and contributing as Making Waves members to global, regional and national discussions and providing perspectives and expertise on HIV linkages with GBV, SRHR and bodily autonomy, and feminist movements, we could put a conservative estimate of US$250,000.

Our commitment will support the following Action Coalitions:

AC1 on gender-based violence, action 4: Enhance support and increase accountability and quality, flexible funding from states, private sector, foundations, and other donors to autonomous girl-led & women’s rights organizations working to end genderbased violence against women and girls in all their diversity.

AC3 on sexual and reproductive health and rights and bodily autonomy, action 4: Increase accountability to, participation of and support for autonomous feminist and women’s organizations (including girl-led and Indigenous organizations), women human rights defenders and peacebuilders, strengthen organizations, networks and movements working to promote and protect bodily autonomy and SRHR.

AC6 on feminist movements and leadership, action 2: Promote, expand, protect, civic space across all domains, including online, and support the efforts of women and feminist human rights defenders and women peacebuilders – including those who are trans, intersex, nonbinary – to defend civic space and eliminate barriers to feminist action, organising and mobilisation in all its diversity.

The Paris Forum takes place June 30-July 2, 2021. To register for the virtual Generation Equality Forum, click here.

To follow posts from the Generation Equality Forum see @GenEgaliteFR, and check out the hashtags #GenerationEquality #GEFAllaboutit #ActForEqual

@spanishfiona will also be tweeting from the Forum, with a focus on HIV.

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