About the Author: Eric Goosby serves as the United States Global AIDS Coordinator.
Last week, I had the privilege of announcing the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief's (PEPFAR) additional $30 million commitment to scale-up efforts to combat gender-based violence (GBV) in the countries we support, with a particular focus on Mozambique, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I had the opportunity to share the news of this increase at a Consultation on Scaling up the Response to Gender-based Violence in PEPFAR. This two-day conference brought together a wide range of international experts and representatives from partner governments, civil society, and the PEPFAR teams from the three countries to discuss the state of the art of GBV programs and interventions, including the most recent research, practical implications for scale-up, programming challenges and monitoring and evaluation. This platform provides a strong information base and starting point for country teams as they focus on GBV.
Gender inequalities fuel the spread of HIV/AIDS. Gender-based violence, in particular, directly promotes the spread of HIV/AIDS by limiting women's ability to negotiate sexual practices, disclose HIV status, and access medical services and counseling due to fear of GBV.
As a key component of President Obama's Global Health Initiative (GHI), which explicitly embraces a woman- and girl-centered approach to health issues, PEPFAR is working to reaffirm and expand its focus on women and girls in the context of HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care. This $30 million initiative is one way that we are doing so.
PEPFAR's increased GBV response will build upon the existing PEPFAR platforms in these three countries, working to increase the reach, coordination, and efficacy of GBV programs. Our hope is that this initiative will move us closer to our goal of sustainable GBV responses by moving small, pilot projects to tailored, coordinated and integrated national responses.
To ensure this, we will strengthen our current partnerships with governments, non-governmental organizations and civil society in Mozambique, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as other countries in which we work. We will also support comprehensive GBV response packages for victims of violence at health facilities, increase GBV prevention programs to address the underlying causes of violence, and improve linkages with other sectors and addressing policy and address structural barriers. PEPFAR will partner with countries and build synergies both across U.S. Government agencies and other partners that focus on GBV-related development issues, such as education, reproductive health, democracy and governance, and economic growth. As we move to expand the reach of programs to fight gender-based violence, we will strengthen our monitoring and evaluation efforts to ensure that interventions implemented are effective and contribute to the broader global effort
Based on my observations in the field, we tackle GBV if we are to win the battle against HIV/AIDS. PEPFAR is committed to targeted and comprehensive responses to gender-based violence, and we will work with our partner countries to meet this goal.