Property and inheritance rights key to empowering women living with HIV, say grass-roots groups
It can no longer be disputed that women and girls are the most affected by the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, nor that they are often unable to protect themselves from HIV due to a range of social and economic inequalities. Tackling discrimination and HIV-related human rights violations against women is central to an effective HIV response.
A wide range of legal service organisations, community-based groups, together with regional networks for women living with HIV, came together at a dialogue event organised by the UN Women in Banjul, Gambia (October 2013) to focus on concrete ways that HIV-affected women can access their property and inheritance rights. The meeting concluded with several key demands to national and local policy makers, such as: the need to include women living with HIV or affected by AIDS in leadership and decision-making platforms; the need to reform civil codes to include rights for shared properties for unregistered customary law unions; and also for relevant authorities to avail adequate funds at the local government level to subsidise legal services for HIV-affected women.