Women shoulder the bulk of the HIV burden in South Africa, constituting 60% of people living with HIV. A young woman is four times more likely to be HIV positive than her male counterpart and HIV incidence among women between 15 and 49 is increasing, while rates in other groups decline. Extremely high levels of sexual and gender based violence in South Africa is fueling the highest HIV/AIDS burden in the world.
Women and girls are also much more likely to be caring for those infected and affected by HIV, limiting their education, work and life opportunities.
The Women’s Sector is part of the Civil Society Forum of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) and was established in 2009 to strengthen and increase the representation of women and their issues within SANAC, as well as to raise women’s voices in the national HIV/AIDS response. Bringing together women, organisations and groups from across the country, the SANAC Women’s Sector advocates for responsive treatment, care and support, women-centred prevention technologies and policy that addresses the realities of women in diverse South African contexts.
Our role is to:
- Represent organisations, groups and movements working in the field of HIV and women at the South African National AIDS Council.
- Co-ordinate the role of civil society on SANAC
- Help build the knowledge, skills and capacity of women’s organisations
- Ensure that the National Strategic Plan (NSP) delivers for women
- Influence policy and advocate for women’s health
- Raise awareness of the intersections between HIV, women’s health and gender based violence.
- Provide a voice for women infected and affected by HIV, AIDS and TB at national level.
- To help organisations and women in communities understand and implement the NSP.
Lead by elected Office Bearers, the Women’s Sector has a dedicated secretariat hosted at the Networking HIV/AIDS Community of South Africa (NACOSA) in Cape Town. Women’s Sector Provincial Gender Focal Points are forums to improve coordination and scale-up support and interaction with provincial, district and local AIDS council structures.
The SANAC Women’s Sector organises a Biennial Women’s HIV Prevention Summit which brings together member organisations of the women’s sector to share and reflect on the progress of the women’s sector as well as give member organisations an opportunity to canvas other members and stand for election.
The SANAC Women’s Sector secretariat is generously funded by Irish AID.