You may remember her as one half of the Eurythmics, the British duo who dominated the popular music charts in the 1980s and early 90s. But in 2010, Annie Lennox (pictured) is using her powerful voice to bring global attention to the plight of women and girls infected with HIV.
Speaking at the launch of the Agenda for Accelerated Country Action, at the United Nations in New York, Annie Lennox called for a broad movement for change to address the rights of women and girls, particularly in the developing world where AIDS has reached epidemic proportions.
“We know that gender inequality puts millions of women and girls across the globe at greater risk of HIV infection. It is unacceptable that only 38% of young women have accurate, comprehensive knowledge of HIV,” Annie Lennox said.
“I’m using my voice to call on leaders—in political, religious and business spheres—and communities to change the power imbalances between men and women, for a better world.”
Globally, women and girls continue to be affected disproportionately by HIV, and AIDS related illness remains the leading cause of death and disease among women of reproductive age (15-49 years) worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa, women account for approximately 60% of estimated HIV infections. In Asia the proportion of women to men living with HIV rose from 19% in 2000, to 35% in 2008.
Starting with UNAIDS and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Agenda for Accelerated Country Action aims to tie the women’s human rights movement with the global AIDS response. Accordingly, ending violence against women is now one of the key priority areas of UNAIDS.
Up to 70% of women experience violence in their lifetime and in South Africa a woman is raped every minute.
UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé said, “The brutality faced by many women and girls goes far beyond social policy issues; in essence it is about equality and justice – it must become a foreign policy issue. This Agenda for Accelerated Country Action for women and girls is a path to open dialogue with leaders of countries on how we shape the world of tomorrow.”
The Agenda for Accelerated Country Action advocates for men to work side by side with women for gender equality, challenging ideas of masculinity that lead to increased risk-taking and sanction violence against women and girls.
Photo credit: UNAIDS/B. Hamilton