International Women’s Day: “Think equal, Build smart, Innovate for change”
The day comes just ahead of the start of the annual Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations in New York, the single largest forum to build consensus on Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
On International Women’s Day this year (08 March), UN Women is calling on individuals and organizations to “think equal, build smart, innovate for change.” Here at the International Partnership for Microbicides, where we are working to expand women’s HIV prevention options with new technologies, innovation is front and center every day.
That’s because gender equality and HIV prevention go hand-in-hand. Today, women bear the brunt of the HIV epidemic and, worldwide, young women ages 15-24 are more than twice as likely to acquire HIV as young men of the same age. Gender inequities play a large role in limiting women’s ability to negotiate safe sex, or even select their partners. Condoms, while highly effective, are often not a feasible option for many women.
That’s why it’s so important to build smart new ways to help women stay HIV-free and protect their sexual and reproductive health. Innovative HIV prevention means offering women more options, including discreet, self-initiated methods that help them reduce their risk on their own terms.
To bring the AIDS epidemic under control, we must address the gender inequities that are putting women at higher risk. And that means innovating for change so that women have a range of tools that fit their individual needs and circumstances, which change throughout their lives. That includes condoms, daily oral PrEP, vaginal and rectal microbicides, injectables, implants and vaccines, as well as multipurpose prevention products that prevent both HIV and unintended pregnancy.
Expanding women’s HIV prevention options is just one way to help empower women—but it is an essential one. And it won’t happen without sustained investment, political will and dedicated partnerships. By working together, we can give women more control over their sexual and reproductive health, so they can stay healthy and thrive.
From all of us at IPM, we wish you a happy and healthy International Women’s Day.