Gender equality for women in all their diversity IWD21

Gender equality for women in all their diversity IWD21

Today, on 8 March, we celebrate International Women's Day - to achieve gender equality for women in all their diversity. This year's theme is: Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world. Gender equality means equal rights and opportunities within all areas of life. It also means valuing different behaviours, aspirations and needs equally, regardless of gender. In Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, the world committed to ending all forms of discrimination against all women and girls in all their diversity, everywhere. 

In 2021, we honour one of our partners' community leaders: Nokuthula Heath working with children and adolescents in South Africa. Read her story at the end of this page. 

Pictures by Eva de Vries

International Women's Day 2021 in times of COVID-19

The theme of, Women in leadership, celebrates the central role of women and girls in all their diversity in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis, much like the HIV crisis, demonstrates again that women stand at the front lines as health care workers, caregivers, community leaders and activists. Women leaders and women's organisations have shown effective leadership in both the COVID-19 and HIV responses. 

UN Women highlights: "Today there is more acceptance than ever before that women bring different experiences, perspectives and skills to the table, and make irreplaceable contributions to decisions, policies and laws that work better for all."


HIV, Gender, and COVID-19

Even in 2021, there is not a single country in the world that has achieved gender equality. Unfortunately, the current COVID-19 pandemic further deepens pre-existing inequalities in all aspects of life. The impacts of the crisis are exacerbated for women and girls simply by virtue of their gender. This, too, affects the HIV pandemic, through increased levels of intimate partner violence, restricted women's decision-making power and less control over their bodies, which reduces their ability to protect their sexual health and limits their access to services. In addition, stigma and discrimination is a fact of life for gender diverse communities such as LGBTQ+ people and sex workers.

Today, we honour one inspiring community leader who's taken her leadership role and improved the lives and health for children and adolescents in South Africa. Read her stories below. 

Nokuthula Heath at Zoë-life in South Africa

Nokuthula has 15 years of experience in developing HIV training programmes in both government and non-government sectors in South Africa. In 2013 she joined Zoë-life specializing in HIV, gender-based violence and abuse-related issues for children and adolescents. As a member of the South African National Department of Health technical working group, she advocates for child and adolescent centred services. Nokuthula was instrumental in the development of the current national HIV Paediatric and Adolescent Disclosure Guideline Policy. She led its implementation through training government officials, public health managers and frontline healthcare workers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been essential in organising child-friendly ways to explain COVID-19 and the issues children living with HIV face in this time.

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