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Browse POLICY Project (1995-2006) Materials

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  • During the process of formulating the Kenya National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan, some of the gender dimensions of the epidemic had been recognised. It was noted that a striking feature of the epidemic was its impact on women as compared to men; the incidence of HIV/AIDS among women was rising at a shocking rate and women were being infected at an earlier age than men were. However, explicit strategies that focused specifically on gender issues were not included in the development of policies or programmes under the five priority areas. In 2001, as the gender aspects of the epidemic became clearer and it was recognised that gender was playing a crucial role in the dynamics of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the National AIDS Control Council established a Technical Sub-Committee on Gender and HIV/AIDS Task Force. It was agreed that the best approach would be to engender the existing Kenya National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan because it is the key document that guides and co-ordinates all responses to HIV/AIDS in Kenya. The Technical Sub-Committee’s mandate was to formulate guidelines and create a strategic framework through which gender concerns could be integrated into the analyses, formulation and monitoring of policies and programmes relating to the five priority areas of the Kenya National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan so as to ensure that the beneficial outcomes are shared equitably by all – women, men, boys and girls. The gender analysis and mainstreaming strategies contained in this document are centrally informed by two National AIDS Control Council commissioned field studies carried out in October 2001 and May 2002. The findings of the field studies illustrate how different attributes and roles societies assign to males and females profoundly affect their ability to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS and cope with its impact. Examples range from the gender issues that render both men and women vulnerable to HIV infection to the ways in which gender influences men and women’s responsibility for, and access to, treatment, care and support. The findings from the field studies and the resulting gender analyses illustrate that gender roles and relations powerfully influence the course and impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Gender-related factors shape the extent to which men, women, boys and girls are vulnerable to HIV infection, the ways in which AIDS affects them, and the kinds of responses that are feasible in different communities and societies. The control of the spread of HIV/AIDS is dependent on the recognition of women’s rights in all spheres of life and therefore, women’s empowerment is an important tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Because the HIV/AIDS pandemic is fuelled by gender inequalities, a proactive engendered response is required to minimise its impact. It is through this document that the Technical Sub- Committee on Gender hopes to ensure that the gender dimension of the HIV/AIDS epidemic does not remain just an intellectual idea, but through the identified strategies becomes a practical tool for guiding policy decisions and programming for all activities under the umbrella of the Kenya National HIV/AIDS Strategic Plan for 2000 - 2005.