Women’s rights advocates, UNAIDS collaborate to address sexual harassment

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The Joint UN Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) says it is collaborating with ATHENA Network, an NGO, to address sexual harassment, gender equality and strengthen rights-based responses to gender and sexual harassment.
The organisation disclosed this in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja.
According to the statement, more than 30 women’s rights leaders and civil society advocates attended the meeting at the headquarters of the organisation in Geneva between June 18 and 19.
It said the participants shared good practices, articulate concerns and discuss ways of moving forward to protect survivors and people who come forward to report incidents of harassment.
The statement added that the participants demonstrated a shared commitment to work with UNAIDS to ensure that sexual harassment both within and beyond UNAIDS was addressed and prevented.
The meeting agreed that measures to transform organisational culture, ensure perpetrators were held to account and protecting survivors and whistle-blowers were central actions for UNAIDS to take.
“The meeting also prioritise efforts to promote gender equality and diversity, and put an end to gender-based violence as part of UNAIDS work to end AIDS globally was emphasised by the meeting,’’ it read in part.
It said UNAIDS Staff Association shared results from recent UNAIDS staff survey which found that four per cent of UNAIDS staff had experienced some kind of sexual harassment within the workplace.
The statement however noted that of the four per cent of the UNAIDS staff that experienced some kind of sexual harassment, only one person said that they had come forward to report the incident.
According to it, UNAIDS leadership outlined new measures that the organisation is putting in place, including a confidential 24-hour hotline, training and 360-degree evaluations, to stop harassment of any kind within the organisation.
“UNAIDS has also recently launched a Gender Action Plan 2018-2023, which includes a series of measures to strengthen organizational culture,’’ the statement said.
The statement quoted the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Dr Michel Sidibe, as saying that addressing the issue of violence against women is a human rights imperative and a priority for him.
I make a personal commitment to lead the culture change needed and implement the measures needed to prevent and address sexual harassment within UNAIDS and address pervasive violence against women and girls,’’ Dr Sidibe said.
The Executive Director of the NGO, Tyler Crone, was also quoted as saying that Athena co-convened the consultation as part of the long-standing work with UNAIDS.
Crone added that the consultation was to ensure that women in all diversity were meaningful part of the decision-making that affects the lives of people.
He said the meeting was to ensure a strong agenda towards accountability informed by women’s rights leaders and women-led civil society was embedded in the on-going work and governance of UNAIDS.

Hauwa Mustapha