by Jacqueline Mukamusana

On Wednesday 04 March, 2009 at CSW meeting in the UN Auditorium, UNIFEM organized a Panel where speakers from various organizations, grassroots, government and UN agencies to discuss on the issue of caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS.

Around the word, gender norms assign women the primary role in caring for people, especially those who ill and dying from HIV and AIDS.
Poverty and inadequate health systems have fostered reliance on home-based, unpaid care. While many family members provide support out of love and compassion, those who are already poor are frequently pushed into destitution by additional financial and emotional burdens. The tendency to rely on women for care greatly reduces their access to opportunities for education and decent work. Political participation and other avenues to women’s empowerment suffer as well.

According to the discussions, the following areas needs more action:

  • Value and visibility of care work: care work must be recognized and valued by individuals, communities, civil society and government and its gender implications acknowledged.
  • Resources: Governments, donors and private sector should provide resources to meet diverse needs of care givers, including for infrastructures and social support
  • Policies: Health and social policies need to ensure care can be provided without placing excessive burdens on households.
  • Education: both parents should work together to educate their children in care work both boys and girls

UNIFEM is doing much to respond:

  • Investing in research for better understanding
  • Promoting community initiatives to address the gender equality dimensions of HIV and AIDS
  • Convening care givers and partiers to develop advocacy strategies
  • Integrating gender dimensions of HI and AIDS in national plans and programs
  • Supporting participation and leadership of women affected by HIV in national responses.