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Global Coalition on Women and AIDS

Economic security for women fights AIDS

Issue #3

Global Coalition on Women and AIDS

SARPN acknowledges the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS as a source of this document:
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What’s real

AIDS, like poverty, has a disproportionate impact on women and girls. Worldwide, of the 1.2 billion people living on less than $1 a day, 70% are women.1 Women own a minority of the world’s land, and yet produce twothirds of the food in the developing world, are the primary caretakers for children, orphans, and the sick, and represent almost half of those living with HIV globally – nearly 60% in sub-Saharan Africa.2,3

In many societies, women are economically and financially dependent on male partners and family members. This dependence can dramatically increase their chances of becoming infected with HIV. Moreover, many women have little control over sexual matters in their relationships, which they often fear might be jeopardized by discussions about sexual issues.

Women whose partners fall sick and die, particularly of AIDS, frequently suffer discrimination, abandonment, and violence. So do women who are suspected of having HIV themselves. In some regions, women may lose their homes, inheritance, possessions, and livelihoods. Thrust into precarious economic situations, they may be forced into risky behavior merely to provide basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothing for themselves and their children.

Yet research suggests that women who own property or otherwise control economic assets have higher incomes, a secure place to live,4 greater bargaining power within their households, and can better protect themselves against domestic violence5 and having to exchange sex to meet their essential economic needs. With greater ownership and control over economic assets women are more empowered to negotiate abstinence, fidelity, and safer sex, and can avoid exchanging sex for money, food, or shelter.6

That’s why the UNAIDS-led Global Coalition on Women and AIDS has made increasing women’s economic security – through access to assets such as land, property, income, credit, and skills training – a top priority in strengthening HIV prevention, treatment, and care for women and girls worldwide.

  1. UNDP, Human Development Reports, 2002/2001.
  2. UNAIDS, “Epidemic Update 2005,” November 2005, p. 4.
  3. UNDP, Human Development Reports, 2002/2001.
  4. ICRW and Millennium Project, “Property Ownership for Women Enriches, Empowers and Protects,” 2005.
  5. Research in India found that 49% of women with no property reported physical violence compared to only 7% of women who did own property (ICRW Panda 2002).
  6. Geeta Rao Gupta, “Luncheon Remarks on Women and AIDS,” June 2005.

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