#SheDecides – A Movement for Women's Empowerment for HIV Prevention

2 March 2018

In this article, Avert CEO, Sarah Hand, reflects on the wider role of #SheDecides for HIV and global development, one year on from its launch.

The power of SheDecides is its emphasis on gender equality and women's empowerment. It's a movement born out of women recognizing their sexual and reproductive health and rights in the era of the Global Gag Rule. SheDecides also links these rights with the wider Sustainable Development Goals, including HIV prevention. 

Around the world, 45 young women are infected with HIV every hour. The majority of these women live in poorer regions of the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where three-quarters of young women don’t have a say in decisions regarding their health. It’s a sad consequence that young women and girls account for three-quarters of HIV infections among 15-19 year olds in sub-Saharan Africa.

We can break down the cycle of new HIV infections, but we have to look well beyond just how HIV is acquired to succeed. We need to look to movements and initiatives, such as SheDecides, that dig at the root causes and create a movement of solidarity among those who are most at risk. The drivers of gender inequality faced by girls and women are many and varied. It’s no coincidence that a number of the countries with the largest and most entrenched HIV epidemics are also those with the worst levels of gender inequality.

But we know that where she decides for herself, a young girl would opt for a life where she has chances, opportunity and the freedom to make her own decisions. As far as HIV is concerned, we know that when she decides (and she has access to up-to-date, relevant sexual health information), many new opportunities open up to reduce the number of new HIV infections.

Read the full article online here.