Delivered by Iwatutu Joyce Adewole, Africa, during the second panel of the Thematic Segment "Positive learning: harnessing the power of education to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination, empower young people and provide a comprehensive HIV response"
I am a young disabled woman from Africa. If I were in Canada or the USA, I would be a young black immigrant woman with a disability. This tells that everywhere in the world, young people embody multiple intersecting, marginalized and overlapping identities that increase their vulnerabilities. School, next to their home, is supposed to be the safest place for adolescents and young people. Sadly, the school stands as a place where many of us face inequalities, human rights violations, and continuous stigma and discrimination. Covid-19 showed the world the realities of the widening inequality gap in the educational system in Africa and the disparities which exist within the rest of the world.
How do we break down HIV-related stigma and discrimination without sharing knowledge of the proper responses? How do we address the rising epidemic with ignorance standing in the way? The answer is simple; we can’t.
Formal and informal education with innovative approaches will play a vital key role in addressing these inequalities and shrinking the inequality gap, thereby reducing HIV transmission and HIV-related stigma and discrimination. What matters is giving young people access to inclusive education and ensuring a qualitative education through good measurement techniques and holding the government accountable for its commitments. Information remains a critical tool, and it is essential to maximize it. The focal point of CSE is to provide adolescents and young people with well-rounded information that extends beyond head knowledge and practical applications of what they have learned. We believe that with the proper learning, they will understand themselves better both physically and mentally, develop “respectful social and sexual relationships”, and make their individual choices conscious of how they affect themselves and others.
Today’s young people must be at the front and center of the response for large-scale global change, to drive conversations and actions and end the epidemic. We must be seen as Co-leaders in the AIDS response, Youth engagement must be fostered by actively listening to youths in the process of leading discussions and the decision-making processes, it must be adequately and sustainably funded and given resources to thrive. The doors must be thrown open for teachers and students living with HIV. This is a start to building back better and demolishing the walls of exclusion and discrimination come crashing down.
Tags: 50th PCB Meeting
Delivered by Gastón Devisich, Latin America and the Caribbean, during the first panel of the Thematic Segment "Positive learning: harnessing the power of education to end HIV-related stigma and discrimination, empower young people and provide a comprehensive HIV response"
The intervention of the NGO Delegation at this very panel is about the value of peer-education. We often conceive it as an approach to health promotion, but it is so much more than that. It addresses the many expressions of stigma, bolsters one’s confidence and empowerment and provides a sense of belonging to many, for the first time in their lives. Peer-education is a double process: it enables you to do much more than just transfer capacities, it allows you to also catalyze emerging needs from your community.
In this matter, youth-led organizations face particular challenges throughout their life cycles. Meaning that once a young person reaches a certain age, you have to leave your organization for an adult-led one in order to continue your own personal path and make room for newer generations to speak up for themselves. It is not enough to have been young to understand today’s youth. For this reason, the growth, transitions and transformations of youth and youth-led organizations create great instability among youth-led organizations, as people come in, get to receive proper training and then have to leave, taking that symbolic capital with them.
If we want young people and adolescents to have a meaningful involvement in the HIV response, we need to support them in regards to peer-education. For youth to lead, we not only have to fund them and include them in decision-making, implementation and evaluation processes. We need to provide them with capacity building opportunities in order for them to develop their own sustainable training mechanisms and processes. This will allow youth to be able to exercise their autonomous voice and enhance an intersectional dialogue that can strengthen the history of youth-led response.
Delivered by Midnight Poonkasetwattana, Asia and the Pacific, on behalf of the NGO Delegation
Thank you chair,
I speak on behalf of the NGO Delegation, and wish everyone a Happy Pride Month.
There have been positive developments and encouraging initiatives taken up to address grievances at the workplace. It is laudable to learn that the majority of staff at UNAIDS completed training courses on Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) as well as courses on ethics and integrity and preventing fraud & corruption.
It was very interesting to learn about the Independent External Oversight Advisory Committee (IEOAC) observations and advice to the PCB and the Executive Director, with a view to strengthening governance and oversight within UNAIDS.
We suggest that:
Please note that the external auditor found that some indicators of UBRAF 2016-2022 were not recorded consistently, including one indicator related to a human rights related indicator. This was not addressed in any of the UBRAF reports, so we need to make sure that the new matrix will address issues found by the external auditor.
We are delighted that an Independent Ethics Office has been established and the head of the Ethics Office is now in place. Sufficient resources and support to the Ethics Office are needed – otherwise there comes a time when the office consists of only one person which may not be enough to effectively deal with the breadth and depth of the work required.
The Joint Inspector Unit (JIU) recommended that consideration is given to “how to best support the office with appropriate staffing and/or backup". We hope that PCB, UNAIDS Executive Director and Secretariat will ensure that the Ethics Office has adequate resources to carry out its functions.
The NGO Delegation would like to know what measures are in place to protect staff from retaliation because this is critical for ensuring that UNAIDS is a safe workplace. The 2020 Global Staff Survey showed that only 37% staff members reported confidence they would not face adverse consequences if they reported a case of abusive conduct. We hope that this percentage will improve in the next Global Staff Survey.
Delivered by Jumoke Patrick, Latin America and the Caribbean, on behalf of the NGO Delegation
Thank you, Chair. I am speaking on behalf of the NGO Delegation.UNAIDS is in its 25th year as a committed and strong global advocacy movement that puts people first, that puts people at the centre of its operation and people first to carry out its mandate as a progressive global change agent. For this reason, I am disheartened to hear another Staff Association report where there remains a troubling low level of trust between staff and senior leadership. Without a doubt as a delegation, we understand that currently, UNAIDS sits on uneasy ground with a global pandemic, humanitarian crisis, budget cuts and an alignment process occurring at the same time which is all causing destabilisation and uncertainty. Yes, we are in difficult times and such a time calls for leadership and transformation that will come at a cost for many, but never should it be at a cost to the people driving the response and the people central to the effectiveness of the responseWe have noted and seen improvement within UNAIDS in the engagement and frequency of which staff are engaged in different processes and congratulate the senior leadership for recognizing that communication is key to the process and that the fit for purpose and realignment process being undertaken won’t be successful if engagement and communication processes are not embedded in the practices and procedures moving forward with the staff of UNAIDSWe have a perfect opportunity NOW to collaborate better to make UNAIDS the change agent for the people we serve. This process is bigger than the Senior Leadership and the leadership of the staff association. This moment and this entire joint programme are for the People who continue to live in danger, the people who continue to be criminalised, the people who continue to have unequal access to treatment AND those who are yet to even see the benefit of a UNAIDS in their country. Looking ahead, we hope that the staff association and the UNAIDS management can find common grounds and better transparent engagements. The hard work of the staff is very much noted and has impacted many and we acknowledge both (Management and Staff) have the good of UNAIDS at heart, to improve staff morale and confidence, to address injustices & inequalities, conflicts and to show US the people living with and impacted by HIV that together they can make powerful moves in the HIV response and as we implement a progressive Global AIDS Strategy.
Delivered by Gastón Devisich, Latin America and the Caribbean, on behalf of the NGO Delegation
Thank you Chair,
Firstly, the NGO Delegation would like to commend the UNAIDS Secretariat for its dedication during this past year. Your hard work did not go by unnoticed, especially during the uncertain times of the financial context, the Alignment process, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
As community representatives, we are convinced the Alignment has come at the best time possible, allowing us to model the global HIV response on a people-centered approach while incorporating the lessons learned on global health during these past 2 years. We would encourage this process to be completed in a human-centered, dignified way that reflects the hallmark of UNAIDS’ work. Nonetheless, we can once again witness the effects of a non fully funded UBRAF. The alignment process demands the adoption of a decentralized, knowledge-driven focus to build a more networked organization, but we can not integrate young people and the world-class technical and strategic capacities they have cultivated in their countries if there is not a solid structure to accommodate them and ensure the scope of their expertise.
During these past days, we heard how in Latin America and the Caribbean, there is fear of various UNAIDS’ offices being emptied and closed. And they are most definitely not alone. At the same time, there are reports from Civil Society leaders in Lower to Middle Income Countries having difficulties with visa applications to attend the 24th International AIDS Conference. That is why I am delivering my intervention in English today. We need Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia Pacific, Northern Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia to be integrated into the global HIV-response. We need to do more for Sub-Saharan Africa, we must stop leaving people behind.
If we want transformations that are equitable and sustainable, we need for the Joint Programme to commit to remain present at country in every single region in the world. We need those offices not only to remain open but to flourish.
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