GlobalPOWER Women Network Africa is a network of Women Elected and Appointed representatives which seeks to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment. GlobalPOWER promotes discussion of accelerated action for women empowerment and gender equality in the area of HIV and Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights, in Africa, focusing on the vulnerability of girls and young women.
Background of GlobalPOWER Women Network Africa
In Africa, the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV remains extremely high; with 59% of all people living with HIV being women. Of the total number of young people aged between 15-24, 72% are women. Young women are more vulnerable to new infections, and in some parts of Africa they are up to 6 times more likely to acquire HIV than their male peers. While 22% of all new infections globally occur among girls and young women, aged 15 to 24; in Africa this amounts to 31%. UNAIDS estimated that about 370 000 children were newly infected in 2009, with at least 76% of the infections occurring in Africa. According to WHO 2008 data, more than half of all maternal deaths occur in Africa, with an average maternal mortality ratio of 620 per 100,000 live births. There is a correlation between the high adolescent fertility rate which in Africa stands at 117 per 1000 of girls aged 15 to 19 years and the underutilisation of educational and economic opportunities for girls and young women.
The prevailing gender inequalities – and gender based-violence among other factors increases women and girls’ risk of HIV, whilst further hindering the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in particular MDG 3, 4, 5, and 6. Against this background, high level women decision-makers from Africa met in September 2010 in Washington DC, to discuss their role in accelerating the implementation of the UNAIDS Agenda for Women and Girls. The meeting, hosted by UNAIDS and the Centre for Women Policy Studies, built on the Global Partnership of Women Elected and Appointed Representatives (GlobalPOWER®) approach of establishing networks among women Leaders and Parliamentarians to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment. The Washington DC meeting decided to establish the GlobalPOWER® Women Network Africa, chaired by, HE Thokozani Khupe, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, to promote and accelerate action for women, girls, gender equality and HIV in Africa.
While adopting the Africa’s Common Position to the High Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly Special Session on AIDS , the 2011 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, and the UNAIDS call for “Getting to Zero” to halt the spread of HIV infection and mitigate the impact of the epidemic on women and girls, including those living with and affected by HIV, the GlobalPOWER® Women Network Africa recognizes that progress on HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights are intertwined and mutually reinforcing. The sexual and reproductive health and rights agenda is key to achieving the goals set in the 2011 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS, in particular the reduction of new HIV infections by half; access to antiretroviral treatment for 15 million people by 2015; and elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and substantial reduction in AIDS-related maternal deaths by 2015. HIV remains one of the leading causes of death among women of reproductive age in Africa. The epidemic has significantly contributed to maternal and child morbidity and mortality. Therefore, achievement of these goals will have a significant and positive impact on maternal and child health.
GlobalPOWER Executive Committee
Secretary General: Hon. Lediana Mung’ong’o (MP) Tanzania,
Vice President: Hon. Sina Maiga, Minister of Women, Child and Family Promotion, Mali,
Vice President: Hon. Shitaye Minale, deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ethiopia,
Committee Member: Hon. Grener Nkhata Gambatula, Hon. Member of Parliament, Malawi,
Committee Member: Hon. Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Deputy Minister of Women, Children and Disability, South Africa.