Summit Objectives

Women Now! provides an opportunity to unify women and girls to assess and influence the content and execution of the international discourse on HIV and its intersections with sexual and reproductive wellbeing.  The summit will address critical areas of concern for the equity and equality of women and girls in HIV, Sexual and Reproductive Health research, resources and program implementation. This critical conversation is intended to accelerate women’s and girl’s organizing and collective action on key issues of race, economic and gender inequality, empowerment, gender-based trauma, violence, sexual and reproductive health and justice.

Background:

The Women Now Summit (WN2016) was the first Pan African Women’s Summit on Sexual and Reproductive Justice (SRJ) and HIV. The need for the Summit was conceptualised by a network of Black women and allies working across the HIV and SRHR response in Africa, Europe, and North America to consider the institutional and social drivers that destabilize Black women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health (SRH).

The convenors expertly mobilised a network of leading women across the spectrum of the HIV response that resulted in more than 200 delegates from eighteen countries coming together in Durban, South Africa. More than 100 scholarships were awarded to young women who were actively engaged in the programme design and facilitation.

The programme consisted of a diversity of themes and session formats – including technical updates on biomedical and social change programmes, small group workshops; performance art; a dedicated learning centre; opportunities for skills building, and self-care. Significantly, the space afforded women of different age groups, cultures, and geospatial contexts the opportunity to come together and discuss issues of sexual health and wellbeing as women. All plenary sessions were led and conceptualized by women.

The summit drew together a broad diversity of clinical, social and behavioural scientists; advocates and activists; donors; journalists; policymakers; artists; faith leaders; and business leaders who were concerned about women’s health, development, and human rights to engage with the agenda of the International AIDS Conference (AIDS2016), and to exchange new information emerging from research on women’s and girls’ vulnerability to HIV. WomenNOW! encourages new thinking and cross-disciplinary partnerships for future work.

Our Goal:

The primary goal of Women NOW! is to build on the solidarity and solutions that were seeded with the inaugural WomenNOW! in 2016. The summit brings together a broad diversity of leaders, especially women and girls living with HIV, and emerging leaders who are concerned about women’s and girls’ unique needs regarding sexual health and development in the context of the International AIDS Conference (AIDS2018). The Summit works to impact institutional and community responses to HIV among women around the world.

Key Objectives

  • Develop concrete strategies and recommendations to improve and increase the inclusion, participation, and prioritization of women and girls of African descent in the IAS and other global institutions that determine the research, treatment, care, prevention, and advocacy strategies for reducing the impact of HIV on sexual and reproductive wellbeing, especially in women and girls;
  • Highlight current research and analyses on factors and contexts of gender-based impacts of HIV (basic clinical, socio-cultural, behavioural, economic, and political inequality, trauma and gender-based violence) among a diverse group of expert participants;
  • Promote cross-disciplinary learning and collaboration among researchers, policymakers, practitioners, feminist advocates, grassroots leaders and activists of the women’s movement at the intersection of HIV, sexual/reproductive health and rights, trauma and gender-based violence to foster new partnerships and thinking on gender-based vulnerability to HIV;
  • Identify opportunities for innovative research, program, and advocacy approaches for women and girls;
  • Inform future funding, policy decisions, and intervention strategies for organizations led by women and girls of African descent; andPlan a series of visible actions that will send clear messages of solidarity and purpose from WomenNOW! to the International AIDS Conference 2018.

 

Summit Description

Women NOW! 2018 will take place over 2.5 days just prior to the opening of AIDS2018. We anticipate the meeting to accommodate a maximum of 400 attendees, staff, and volunteers. The Summit will begin in the late afternoon/evening of July 20, followed by two full days of plenaries, workshops, affinity group sessions, strategic action planning, networking and fellowship. SisterLove, Karma Communications, PAPWC and local host partnerspropose to work together with many partners and collaborators including: research and funding institutions; private foundations and philanthropies; non-profit organizations (local, national and international); women’s HIV and Reproductive Justice advocates, activists, researchers, feminist scholars and leaders; and journalists’, artists’ and students’ groups. The summit will comprise both presentations and facilitated discussions to promote cross-disciplinary learning and collaboration, as well as identify concrete approaches to research and programming. Presentations are organized around key areas as identified and prioritized by an open process for input from previous participants. The program will include speakers and presenterswho can highlight especially new and compelling work that has potential to inform and inspire forward interdisciplinary thinking, push the envelope, and generate new ideas. In addition to the ideas and relationships formed during such a meeting, summit outputs will include a report detailing a research agenda for further inquiry and collaboration.

Outcomes

  • Ramp up a global coordinated response to the root causes for the disparate vulnerabilities of women and girls of African descent who are affected by the HIV pandemic worldwide.
  • A collective statement that will drive increased attention to resources, funding, services and policy needed to prioritize women of African descent as a global key population in HIV responses such as UNAIDS’s 90-90-90 Strategy, the UN’s Strategic Development Goals, and international research initiatives.
  • Establish a formal process to convene the WomenNow! Summit to coincide with every bi-annual International AIDS Conference sponsored by the International AIDS Society; and to sustain a focused influence on women and girls, especially those of African descent in Africa and throughout the Diaspora, as a key population in the accelerated fight to end the HIV epidemic.
  • WomenNOW! will work to secure new and bold global commitments to solidarity on women’s issues, especially Black women’s and girls’ capacity and agency to overcome the sexual and reproductive justice challenges that exacerbate the impacts of HIV risk and transmission among women of African descent.