Tackling gender inequalities and intimate partner violence in the response to HIV: moving towards effective interventions in Southern and Eastern Africa
Ending intimate partner violence (IPV) and reducing gender inequalities are recognised as critical to “‘ending AIDS” by 2030. Amongst women, experiencing IPV has been shown to increase HIV acquisition, reduce women’s ability to use HIV prevention strategies and reduce adherence to antiretroviral therapy (ART). In Southern and Eastern Africa there has recently been a significant push to strengthen programming around this through broad funding and programming streams. However, while gender inequality underpins IPV and HIV acquisition, in different contexts a variety of other factors intersect to shape this vulnerability. Using reflections focused on young women living in urban informal settlements and the Stepping Stones and Creating Futures intervention, this paper illustrates the need to understand the specific drivers of HIV and IPV in any given context and the need for interventions to prevent this. Any intervention needs to include three key components: 1) resonate with the lived realities of women they target; 2) tackle multiple factors shaping women’s vulnerability to IPV and HIV simultaneously; and 3) consider how best to work with men and boys to achieve improved outcomes for women. Such an approach, it is argued, resonating with the “slow research” movement, will yield better outcomes for interventions, but will also require a fundamental rethinking of how interventions to prevent IPV and HIV amongst women are conceptualised, with a greater emphasis on understanding the ways in which gender resonates in each context and how interventions can operate.
Keywords: gender, intervention, Stepping Stones, urban, violence against women