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Gender Inequality Must Be Addressed To ‘Get To Zero’ In AIDS Epidemic

“What does it take to get to zero? While reflecting on the theme of this past World AIDS Day (Getting to zero, Zero new infections, Zero discrimination, Zero deaths), I asked myself this question,” Lisa MacDonald, project manager at HealthBridge Foundation of Canada, writes in a Huffington Post Canada opinion piece. “The truth is that it takes a combined effort across multiple sectors, using multiple strategies and targeting multiple audiences,” she states. However, “one issue that cuts across all sectors is that of gender inequity and its role in shaping sexual relations and in determining life choices,” she continues.

“Underlying gender inequality is the unspoken reality that, in many parts of the world, women and girls are undervalued by society and even their own families,” MacDonald writes. “As a result of their lower position in society, girls and women often lack power to make choices and are forced into life situations that hinder their development and put them at risk,” she says, adding, “To improve women’s position in society and give them more control over their life choices, the perceived value of women and girls must change.” To do this, MacDonald proposes “[a]dvocating for policies which protect the rights of women and girls”; “[u]sing social media to promote positive images and examples of equitable gender relations”; and “[d]eveloping educational curricula which teach children and youth that men and women should be equally valued and have equal opportunities.” She concludes, “To Get to Zero in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, we need more innovative approaches that challenge and improve the position of women and girls in society, give them control over their lives, and open doors to a more promising future” (12/12).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.