HIV and gender mainstreaming in GIZ Uganda
Title: HIV/AIDS mainstreaming in Uganda
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Uganda was one of the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to experience the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS. By the end of 2001, the country had experienced almost one million AIDS-related deaths. Today, with new treatments making it possible for people to live with the infection, HIV is no longer a death sentence. Nevertheless, more than 1.5 million people living with HIV in Uganda still suffer from stigmatisation and social exclusion and only half of them have access to treatment.
In recent years, the national HIV prevalence rate among sexually active people aged 15–49 has risen to 7.3%. The epidemic thus still poses a great challenge to sustainable development and social progress. An estimated 350 new infections occur every day, and some 50 of these are amongst girls aged between 15 and 24. In fact, only South Africa has a higher HIV prevalence rate amongst young women in this age group. The effects can be seen in every aspect of life, and efforts to address the disease still require joint action by all stakeholders in every sector.
As the figures above show, women are particularly vulnerable when it comes to HIV and Uganda is no exception. Apart from HIV issues, women in Uganda face a multitude of other obstacles: They experience inequalities ranging from restricted access to financial services to gender-based violence. Over half of married women (ages 15-49) are reported to have experienced physical, sexual and/or emotional violence at the hands of their partner. Worldwide, Uganda has the highest percentage of women (40%) and men (36%) who maintain that wife beating is acceptable. Also, more than 90% of Ugandans are in favour of laws restricting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.
The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) operates a policy of mainstreaming gender and HIV throughout all activities conducted by organisations of German development cooperation, including GIZ.
HIV: Susceptibility and vulnerability to HIV is reduced among GIZ’s employees and partner organisations, and among our target groups, thus sustaining their capacity to work and their productivity. This helps ensure that GIZ’s programmes in Uganda can achieve their objectives, while also mitigating the impacts of HIV and AIDS throughout the country.
Gender: GIZ Uganda contributes to the implementation of GIZ’s Gender Strategy.
Mainstreaming is viewed as an organisational development process in which institutions can pursue effective and sustainable solutions, both through the work they do and in their own workplaces. GIZ’s mainstreaming activities therefore build upon two pillars: internal and external mainstreaming. The first is aimed at GIZ’s own staff, with an HIV and gender workplace programme involving HIV prevention measures as well as sensitisation to gender issues. In contrast, external mainstreaming is about integrating measures within GIZ’s own projects and programmes in order to address the impacts of the HIV epidemic and the unequal power relations between men and women. This mitigates any HIV-related threats and ensures that men and women benefit equally from GIZ’s interventions. Furthermore, it also ensures that we ourselves do not inadvertently contribute to the spread of HIV or gender inequalities through our work.
Highly successful examples of internal HIV and gender mainstreaming include GIZ Uganda’s HIV, health and wellbeing policy. Rolled out in 2014, this policy comprises a caring and supportive health scheme that provides for the health and wellbeing-related needs of all GIZ staff. Developed in consultation with the GIZ National Staff Council, the workplace programme also includes so-called health talks for staff and their families (now considered a Best Practice) and training for peer educators. Furthermore, it supplies a variety of condoms as well as information, education and communication materials on HIV/reproductive health and gender-related topics. As part of internal gender mainstreaming, GIZ Uganda has developed its own sexual harassment policy and trained its staff to apply it.
In 2011, GIZ Uganda adopted and adapted a tool known as the ‘Join-in-Circuit on AIDS, Love and Sexuality (J-IC)’ as a sensitisation method for use in both our internal and external HIV mitigation and gender sensitisation activities. J-IC has proven effective in the Ugandan environment, increasing participants’ knowledge through its two-hour participatory sessions.
Gender and HIV mainstreaming have become an established part of work life in Uganda, with surveys confirming increased knowledge of the pertinent issues among GIZ staff and the integration of gender and HIV-related activities across all GIZ Uganda’s programmes.