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Donors backtracking on funding AIDS treatment

By Phakamile Magamdela

Lives of AIDS patients in poor countries could be severely compromised if donors and rich nations continue reducing their funding commitments to AIDS programmes.

Independent humanitarian aid agency, Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF), is urging major donors not to “wipe out gains” made by the roll out of anti-retrovirals (ARVs) by “retreating from their international funding commitments”.

In a report titled “Punishing success? Early Signs of a Retreat from Commitment to HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment”, which was published recently, the MSF singled out the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as having reduced their funding commitments to the response to AIDS. These are two major organisations supporting crucial AIDS treatment programmes in the developing world. 

“We are told by the White House in the United States that the budget coming from the White House to Congress this month will have a flat funding of PEPFAR for 2011. This will have disastrous effects on the countries that are relying upon PEPFAR funds”, said Sharonann Lynch, MSF Policy Advisor.

The MSF also raised concern over the “funding deficit of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund)”.

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Disabled should claim rights in UN convention

NAIROBI, 12 November 2009 (PlusNews) - The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) should be used as a tool to improve access to HIV services for disabled people, who are often marginalized in national HIV policies, says a new report.

"PWDs experience all the risk factors associated with HIV, and are often at increased risk because of poverty, severely limited access to education and health care, lack of information and resources to facilitate 'safer sex', lack of legal protection, increased risk of violence and rape, vulnerability to substance abuse, and stigma," the authors noted in HIV/AIDS and Disability: Final Report of the 4th International Policy Dialogue.

HIV/AIDS was implicitly included in the CRPD under article 25a, where "State Parties shall provide PWDs with the same range, quality and standard of free, affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes," the authors noted.

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Gender Advocates Keep a Close Eye on Climate Talks

By Lynette Lee Corporal

BANGKOK, Sep 29 (IPS) - After nine months of a rollercoaster ride pushing for a gender perspective on climate change, advocates are finally beginning to reap the fruits of their labour.

Amid dire predictions from various quarters that they will not make much of an impact on the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit scheduled for Dec. 7 to 18, representatives of the Global Gender Climate Alliance (GGCA) are nonetheless keeping their hopes high that their hard work in the last several months will pay off.

GGCA is a network of non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations as well as United Nations agencies working to ensure that climate change policies at the global, regional and national levels are gender-responsive.

Already the Alliance is watching closely the ongoing talks at the second to the last round of climate change negotiations before the December summit — otherwise known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) 15 — which are currently underway in the Thai capital.

The Bangkok climate change conference, which opened Monday and will conclude on until Oct 9., is being attended by some 4,000 delegates from 177 countries. The last round will be held in Barcelona, Spain on Nov. 2-6.

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Migiro warns that economic turmoil has exacerbated violence against women

9 September 2009

The scourge of violence against women has worsened as a result of the global financial downturn over the past year, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said today as she urged some of the world’s richest countries to lead the way in turning the many international pledges to support women and girls into concrete results.

In a keynote address in Rome to a ministerial-level conference on violence against women, being held under the auspices of the Italian presidency of the Group of Eight (G8), Ms. Migiro said there is evidence that women and girls are exposed to a greater risk of violence during times of hardship.

“We have seen rising levels of despair and frustration in families and communities around the world, exacerbating violence against women,” she said.

“In a recent survey of more than 630 domestic violence shelters in the United States, 75 per cent reported an increase in women seeking help for abuse since September 2008, coinciding with a major downturn in the US economy. We must remain especially vigilant through these tough times.”

Ms. Migiro detailed to the conference some of the steps taken by the UN to end violence against women and girls, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s UNiTE campaign, which calls on world leaders to launch national campaigns aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls in all parts of the world.

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UNIFEM’s Fund for Gender Equality Announced

After a long wait, UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women) has finally announced that it is seeking proposals from NGOs (and also governmental agencies) in developing countries under its newly established “Fund for Gender Equality” which aims to “accelerate progress toward the goal of gender equality and women’s empowerment.”

The Fund will promote new multilateral initiative to achieve gender equality, reduce discrimination, poverty and work towards achieving the objectives of the Beijing Platform Action, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The Fund has been supported by the Government of Spain and it will provide support towards strengthening of “organizations that promote gender equality and women’s rights at the country level.”  Women’s organizations, networks and other mechanisms will be benefited from the Fund as it will work towards building their capacities and skills.

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