Universal Access for Women and Girls: ICRW Asia's contribution to UNDP report

26 April 2012
Richa Bansal

Women and girls face unique barriers to accessing HIV prevention, treatment and care in India. As part of the Universal Access for Women and Girls Now! project, led by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), STRIVE members at the International Centre for Research on Women, Asia (ICRW) worked with female sex workers in Pune, Maharashtra and the wives of migrant workers in Ganjam, Orissa. Both are vulnerable, high-risk populations in which HIV is very prevalent. And while several studies exist about female sex workers – including by ICRW – none has comprehensively analyzed the barriers women sex workers face in accessing HIV-related services. Meanwhile, there has never been an examination of the vulnerability and risk to HIV among wives of migrant men.

ICRW will use these research findings to work with India’s National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in its creation of an action plan to respond to the epidemic. ICRW also will make recommendations to NACO on how to help women overcome structural, social and cultural barriers to health services. NACO’s targeted intervention strategy primarily addresses high risk groups, which include female sex workers.

Along with India, UA Now! also is being implemented in Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, Zambia, Tanzania and Swaziland. While there are common causes, risk factors and consequences related to women and HIV globally, each country has its own unique structural and cultural implications.

Read a related article in the Times of India for background.