The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) in Egypt will launch an on the ground campaign calling for zero discrimination towards women and girls, which is commemorated every year on 1 March.
Zero Discrimination Day is universal in nature and aims to highlight issues related to all forms of discrimination. The celebration calls on people worldwide to support the rights of everyone to live a life without stigma or discrimination, regardless of their origin, gender, or their serostatus.
Targeting youth and the general population, the awareness activities are expected to be launched during this month of March in several public and private universities, sports clubs, as well public spaces.
This year’s campaign main goal is to raise awareness on discrimination specifically faced by women and girls, eliminating the social stigma and support universal access to healthcare services.
Discrimination and gender inequality remain a huge barrier for women and girls in all aspects of their lives and have a significant impact on the AIDS response. Women and girls face many forms of discrimination in their daily lives that lessen their ability to make essential decisions regarding their health.
In her statement, Winnie Byanyima, UNAIDS Executive Director, said, “our collective experience at the United Nations have highlighted the same key lesson: the struggle to beat AIDS is inseparable from the struggle for women’s rights and from the struggle against all forms of discrimination.”
This includes access to different reproductive health services in a timely and proficient manner as well as knowledge, prevention, and testing for HIV. Also, very often, women and girls do not access their available rights out of fear to disclose their serostatus due to stigma, but also out of fear to being subject to gender-based violence.
“AIDS can be beaten, but it will only be beaten if we take on the social and economic injustices that perpetuate it and spur more scientific innovations to address the real needs of women and girls and people living with and vulnerable to HIV,” asserted Byanyima.
In conjunction with International Women’s Day taking place on 8 March every year, UNAIDS calls for the end to discrimination against women and girls, equal rights, equal access to employment opportunities, treatment, and education.
Dr. Walid Kamal, UNAIDS Egypt Country Manager, stressed “There are several national initiatives and efforts in Egypt to combat and prevent discrimination of citizens, especially in the area of access to healthcare services.”
He said the state has introduced several initiatives promoting a healthy life for all citizens, especially women, and expanding the definition of basic health care and reproductive health services.
“These initiatives add up to previous ones supporting the health of children and students, placing Egypt among the leading countries in Africa providing opportunities for a healthy life for all its residents and citizens,” added Kamal.
He said the National AIDS Programme and the Ministry of Health and Population are currently working on a project supporting the reproductive health of HIV-positive women and those affected by it in several governorates, delivering specialised health advice and services to these women.
He emphasised the fact that the most significant of these activities is the outset of prevention services for mother-to-foetus transmission as well as the provision of psychological counseling for social support and rehabilitation.