This Seminar, which was the second of its kind organized by the PLHIV Committee in the year 2013, with a focus on women and HIV/AIDS, was inspired, amongst others, by:
· The continuous dismal statistics and devastating effect of HIV/AIDS in Africa;
· The disproportionate impact on women and their peculiar vulnerability to the pandemic;
· The attendant HIV-related human rights violations experienced by women living with HIV (“WLHIV”), including, most disquieting, issues of non-consensual sterilisation and abortion; and
· The crucial need to address these human rights violations, particularly in the context of the right to health and sexual reproductive rights guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Protocol to the African Charter on the Rights of Women in Africa, and to promote rights-based HIV/AIDS responses that address the peculiar challenges and needs of WLHIV.
The Seminar had the following objectives:
- To provide a space for various stakeholders working with WLHIV in Africa to understand, discuss and review key human rights issues that affect WLHIV in the context of access to health care in Africa, with a view to bringing increased attention to them, on the part of African Governments as well as all other stakeholders;
- To review and discuss existing responses, including best practices, for addressing these challenges at country level; and
- To create the momentum for the PLHIV Committee to take these issues forward, including by formulating/putting in place a drafting committee that would formulate a potent Resolution that would be useful for advocacy and litigation on the violations of women’s rights in the context of HIV, to be presented for adoption by the NGOs forum and subsequently the Commission, at its 54th or 55th Ordinary Session.
The Seminar was technically and financially supported by UNAIDS, and in particular, regional support was provided through the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for West and Central Africa, based in Dakar, Senegal.
The facilitators at the Seminar were Honourable Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor - Chairperson of the PLHIV Committee, Honourable Commissioner Reine Alapini Gansou - Member of the PLHIV Committee, and Honourable Commissioner Soyata Maiga - Member of the PLHIV Committee, through her representative, Ms. Irene Mbengue. They were ably assisted by Expert Members of the PLHIV Committee – Mrs. Agnes Atim Apea, Mr. Patrick Eba, Mr. Christian Garuka Nsabimana, Mr. Fogue Dzutue and Mr. Ebenezer Durojaye; together with Ms. Nyasha Chingore, who served as a Resource Person for the Seminar.
The Seminar was serviced by Mrs. Abiola Idowu-Ojo, Ms. Irene Mbengue, Ms. Prisca Chogero and Mr. Philbert Bayeka, from the Secretariat of the Commission.
The Seminar was attended by forty-one (41) various stakeholders, including the members of the Commission, experts from the PLHIV Committee, government representatives, National Human Rights Institutions, National AIDS Commissions, women’s groups, organisations working with PLHIV, and WLHIV; representing sixteen (16) countries and twenty-eight (28) organisations.
The Seminar was divided into four (4) distinct sessions, preceded by a formal opening ceremony and press interviews.
The opening ceremony was chaired by Mr. Mouhamadou Moustapha Sèye, the Representative of the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Senegal, and also in attendance were Mr. Mamadou Diallo, the Regional Director of UNAIDS Regional Support Team for West and Central Africa; and Mr. Abdoulaye Mar, Representative of the Chairperson of the Senegalese Human Rights Committee.
The substantive part of the Seminar took the form of interactive sessions, comprising presentations by resource persons and the sharing of country experiences by participants, followed by plenary discussions.
The presentations and discussions centred around the legal and institutional frameworks for the protection of the rights of WLHIV in Africa; fundamental notions on women’s rights and HIV, touching amongst others, on the vulnerability of women in the context of HIV/AIDS and its impact on women’s human rights, the human rights challenges in the context of efforts to end mother-to-child transmission of HIV, the protection and promotion of the sexual and reproductive health and rights of WLHIV; as well as practical experiences on women’s rights and HIV/AIDS in fifteen (15) of the countries represented at the Seminar.
After the three-day Seminar, participants had: acquired greater awareness of the international and regional legal and institutional frameworks for the protection of WLHIV in Africa; gained broader knowledge of the key human rights issues affecting WLHIV, particularly in the context of access to health care in Africa; gained momentum and increased commitment to monitor and address the identified human rights issues affecting WLHIV; and also formulated concrete recommendations and strategies for advancing the protection of the rights of WLHIV in Africa, including by drafting a Resolution on Involuntary Sterilisation and Protection of Human Rights in Access to HIV Services, to be presented for further enrichment by stakeholders at the NGOs forum, and subsequently to the Commission for adoption.
Done in Dakar, Senegal, this 5th Day of October 2013