Gendering National Strategic Plans
National Strategic Plans (NSPs) have the potential to serve as influential platforms for articulating and supporting a gender responsive HIV and AIDS agenda. However, in reality, NSPs often fall short of integrating gender responsive approaches and language in their recommendations for policy and programming (prevention, treatment, care, and support) or insufficiently operationalise these gender directives.
The HEARD-ATHENA Engendering National Strategic Plans Project
ATHENA and the Gender Equality and HIV Prevention Project of the Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division (HEARD) of the University of KwaZulu Natal have partnered to develop a Review of Women, Girls, and Gender Equality in National Strategic Plans on HIV and AIDS in Southern and Eastern Africa.
In line with supporting the more effective engendering of the next generation of NSPs, HEARD and ATHENA embarked on a project with the dual objectives of firstly, developing a framework for engendering NSPs and secondly assessing current Southern and Eastern African NSPs against this framework. The initial phase of this project, in mid-2010, entailed a critical scan of the literature on integrating gender into NSPs and evidence for best practice at the intersection of gender, human rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights and HIV. We sought to complement the many ongoing processes of engendering NSPs, which have successfully defined why it is important to address gender, what key issues require reflection, and how to embark on the engendering process.
We envision the NSP framework and subsequent assessments as tools for effectively addressing women and girls in the context of HIV. The framework and assessments will assist Southern and Eastern African countries to improve the gender responsiveness of NSPs, while also serving as an advocacy and accountability tool for key civil society partners. Ultimately, HEARD and ATHENA view the engendering NSP project as among several key contributions towards the overarching goal of advancing women’s rights and gender equality in Southern and Eastern Africa.
Following up on this initial work, ATHENA and HEARD launched How to Make Friends and Influence People: Tracking the Impact of the Framework for Women, Girls and Gender Equality in National Strategic Plans in Southern and Eastern Africa in December 2012.
Integrating Strategies to Address Gender-Based Violence and Engage Men & Boys to Advance Gender Equality through National Strategic Plans
The UN Interagency Working Group on Women, Girls, Gender Equality and HIV (specifically: UNFPA, UNDP, UNAIDS, UN Women and WHO), in collaboration with the MenEngage Alliance, Sonke Gender Justice and ATHENA Network has convened two global consultations on Integrating Strategies to Address Gender-based Violence and Engage Men and Boys to Advance Gender Equality through National Strategic Plans on HIV and AIDS. The meetings aimed to review current National Strategic Plans on HIV and AIDS (NSPs), to assess the strengths and weaknesses of these plans with regard to addressing gender-based violence and engaging men and boys for gender equality, and to develop country action plans for advocacy to address priority issues and gaps.
The consultations were designed and undertaken in a highly participatory manner, with delegates immersed in cross-country and –regional sharing of experience, peer-to-peer and south-to-south learning, and the collaborative development of country action plans. The first of these consultations was held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 30th November to 2nd December 2010, and brought together participants from 14 countries across five regions. The second meeting was held in Istanbul, Turkey, from 14th to16th November 2011, bringing together delegations from 16 (new) countries.