Unzip the Lips is intended to offer a safe and inclusive space for dialogue. It is a platform being galvanised by The Coalition of Asia Pacific Regional Networks on HIV/AIDS (7Sisters) together with supporting partners and activists across the region to articulate the needs of key affected women and girls. To date, this is an informal discussion space with the support of several engaged institutions and individuals. In this space we hope to engage and mobilise support from other organisations and individuals who share our commitment to making the voices of women and girls, particularly those most at risk and most affected by HIV, heard in national and regional AIDS responses.
The Unzip the Lips campaign produced a short video on women most at risk of, and most affected by, HIV in the Asia Pacific region. The video highlights the needs and rights of these key affected women and girls in a concentrated epidemic. The video was shown to 260 delegates from 34 countries at the UN ESCAP Asia-Pacific High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on HIV/AIDS held in February 2012.
Why should we be talking about “key affected women and girls” in this region?
- Most countries in this region are experiencing concentrated epidemics, with men who have sex with men (MSM), sex workers (SW) and their clients, and people using drugs (PUD) identified as the key affected populations;
- Global policy documents typically refer to the need to address women and girls without clarification about what this means in a concentrated epidemic context. The global results are framed in a way that does not always facilitate inclusion of key affected women and girls resulting in a perception that they are not a priority for our region;
- Across Asia Pacific, the key affected women and girls remain largely invisible when it comes to policymakers and allocation of financial resources, despite the fact that 35% of people living with HIV in the region are women, and the number of women in key affected populations is considerable in certain countries. This is exacerbated by the fact that many key affected women and girls lack platforms for priority issues to be raised;
- Evidence on most at risk and most affected women and girls has improved in recent years but this valuable body of research has yet to be thoroughly reviewed and synthesized to inform policy and allocation of resources at regional, sub-regional and country level and to convince policy makers and programmers to invest in women and girls most at risk and most affected. This includes women and girls connected to the key affected populations of MSM, SW and clients and PUD, as well as women and girls living with HIV;
- “Key affected women and girls” urgently need definition regionally so that countries know which populations should be included and prioritised in national HIV responses.
Why is this space needed?
- To get talking: Dialogue between civil society organizations addressing the rights and needs of different key affected women and girls has been limited to date.
- To ensure that resources for women and girls are directed strategically for maximum impact: This includes providing evidence-based advice to governments and donors about what the priorities are for key affected women and girls, and ensuring that resources are targeted to areas of greatest need.
- To create a coordinated movement: Promote synergies in the work of the many partners involved, to synthesize available evidence, and to promote the generation of new evidence to inform policymakers, programme planners and donors.