Celebrated on 8 March, International Women’s Day builds support for women’s rights and participation in the political and economic arenas. The Swedish Workplace HIV and AIDS Programme (SWHAP) joins the international community in celebrating International Women’s Day under the 2016 theme “Pledge for Gender Parity.”
Why is gender parity important?
The rights to equality and non-discrimination are fundamental principles to human rights, yet gender inequalities still persist and women and girls face discrimination. On average women still earn less than men, are not proportionally represented in political positions, are more likely to suffer physical and sexual violence and thus more likely to acquire HIV.
Gender parity is not only a social and moral issue but also an economic one. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) acknowledge the importance of gender parity in achieving global progress and addressing poverty, with a specific goal (SDG 5) aiming to end discrimination and violence against women and ensure equal participation in all spheres.
Investing in the health, wellbeing and rights of women means everyone wins. It strengthens economies, increases productivity, improves health and creates sustainable nations (womendeliver.org). A 2015 report by McKinsey Global Institute found that “$12 trillion dollars could be added to global gross domestic product by advancing women’s gender equality”. The same research showed that diversity in the workplace is important for successful business. Companies with more women on their boards showed 26% higher returns and 56% higher operating profits (www.mckinsey.com).
What is the relationship between gender parity, HIV and health?
Over 30 years into the HIV epidemic, it is well documented that unequal relationships between men and women and societal norms of femininity and masculinity are important influences on HIV prevention, treatment and management. Gender inequality and harmful gender norms are not only associated with the spread of HIV but also with its consequences. SWHAP recognises the importance of integrating gender in the HIV and AIDS response.
What are SWHAP partners doing to address gender in the workplace?
Several companies in the SWHAP partnership are participating in a pilot programme to mainstream gender and diversity management into HIV and AIDS workplace programmes. The mainstreaming of gender in workplace programmes allows for the needs of women and men in relation to HIV to be effectively addressed. Men are integral to the process as they play a vital role in the process of promoting, responsible sexual behaviour, and reproductive health rights and in the elimination of violence perpetuated against women.
Within the context of HIV addressing gender inequalities removes barriers to accessing HIV services, enabling women and men to access comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services. These investments result in healthier workers who are generally more productive and contributes to sustainable business.
What more can be done?
- Help women and girls achieve their ambitions
- Challenge conscious and unconscious bias
- Partner effectively with men to end gender inequalities at the workplace
- Call for gender-balanced leadership
- Value everyone’s contribution equally
- Create flexible inclusive cultures
Source: www.internationalwomensday.com read more at www.internationalwomensday.com/Resources