Context and Initiative
Gender equality means that all genders enjoy equal resources or benefits, or equal access to and use of services – this also applies to healthcare. However, gender-related barriers to health undermine the right to health for all. Due to biological factors, men and women have different health needs and problems. In addition, health is influenced by social determinants, of which gender is a central aspect. The access to food, education, employment or decision-making is often based on gender norms and values, with negative impacts on health; in particular in women and sexual minorities. Consequently, it is important to provide gender-sensitive health services which align with the needs of their beneficiaries. Since 2002, BACKUP Health has been supporting countries to access and efficiently use grants of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and to promote gender equality within these programmes. This directly links to SDGs 3 and 5. Women, girls and sexual minorities, who are likely to benefit less from Global Fund programmes, are amongst the target group of BACKUP support. One example for this approach is the three-year “Shadows and Light” collaboration Project with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). It focused on men who have sex with men, sex workers, people who use drugs and transgender people, as these are at increased risk of HIV. Working in Cameroon, Uganda, Kenya and India, the project was set out to improve the linked sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and HIV needs of these key populations.
Gender – A Quality Feature of Our Work
The BACKUP approach to integrate gender as a cross-cutting issue in all measures aligns with the Global Fund gender strategy and is welcomed and valued by partners. BACKUP integrates gender in its monitoring System and guides partners to follow a similar approach. The best evidence for the quality of our work is the satisfaction of our partners, who say that “BACKUP should continue to provide technical assistance where needed and allow for continued capacity building in cross cutting areas such as Gender and Human Rights, including capacity building for programming for Key Populations” (CCM, Zambia).
Since its foundation, BACKUP has contributed to gender equality within Global Fund programmes. Between 2012 and 2015, BACKUP collaborated with 134 public and civil Society organisations in 57 countries, out of which 60% explicitly integrated gender in their projects. The collaboration with IPPF had a significant impact by sensitizing service Providers and building their capacity to reach out to key populations. The project established integrated, clinic-based and outreach services for HIV and SRH. Key populations’ capacity to engage with in-country Global Fund processes was also developed. This partnership has been key to strengthening the inclusion of SRH and HIV linkages within Global Fund programmes. As a result of BACKUP’s success, partners continue to request similar activities related to gender and the Global Fund.
Dr. Klaus Peter Schnellbach
The new factsheet ‘Addressing sexual and reproductive health and HIV needs among key populations’ can be accessed here.