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Making the global HIV response work for women

Professor Sophie Harman from Queen Mary’s School of Politics and International Relations has collaborated with UN Women to produce a Toolkit for Action to coincide with World AIDS Day.

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Many women and girls worldwide continue to face discrimination as a consequence of HIV-related stigma.
Many women and girls worldwide continue to face discrimination as a consequence of HIV-related stigma.

The toolkit, Making the HIV Response Work for Women: A Toolkit for Action, aims to empower women and girls who are living with HIV and to ensure that services meet their needs.

Tackling inequalities

Many women and girls worldwide continue to face rejection, prejudice, economic insecurity, rights violations and violence from partners, family members, communities and institutions as a harsh consequence of HIV-related stigma and discrimination and persistent gender inequalities.

Using a feature film, Pili, about a woman living with HIV in rural Tanzania, this Toolkit for Action aims to support national efforts in identifying key issues women living with and affected by HIV face and actions that are required to address these challenges and existing gaps in the HIV response.

The toolkit will be used by national governments, civil society as well as various UN and development partners in their efforts to improve gender equality in the context of HIV. It includes exercises and a range of activities which highlight some of the existing inequalities facing women living with HIV.

Empowering women through film

Originally released in 2017, the film follows the lead character, Pili, over four days as she grapples with an opportunity to change her life. Pili works the fields for less than $1 a day to feed her two children and struggles to manage and conceal her HIV positive status.

The film was produced by Professor Sophie Harman from Queen Mary University of London’s School of Politics and International Relations who was nominated for a BAFTA for her work. Pili was filmed on location in Tanzania and the story was devised from interviews with 85 women from the Pwani region of the country.

Professor Harman said: “Pili is a film with huge heart and power that has resonated with audiences across the world. We want to harness that power in a way that audiences can do something about the issues in the film.

“My hope is that the Toolkit is used by politicians, policy-makers, and game-changers to really centre the experiences of women living with HIV like Pili and address their needs.”

Pili is an original award-winning film led by a female director, female producer, and predominantly female cast, funded by an AXA Insurance Outlook Grant and the Innovation Fund Award of Queen Mary University of London.

World AIDS Day, designated on 1 December every year since 1988, is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.

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