12 August 2019

United Nations Development Programme


Commitment Progress


In 2018, the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, convened by UNDP on behalf of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS [UNAIDS] published a Supplement to the 2012 report. The supplement highlighted the changes in the global landscape since 2012, including the situation of adolescent girls and young women in the AIDS response, the growing use of ‘conscientious objection’ to deny sexual and reproductive health care, information and services to women, the impact on of the war on drugs on women and the precarious situation of women in prison, women who use drugs, and those living with HIV, TB and/or viral hepatitis.

UNDP is managing 31 Global Fund (GF) grants in 18 countries and 3 regional programmes covering another 27 countries.


Through the partnership, 1.4 million people are currently receiving antiretroviral treatment and 97,000 pregnant women are receiving ARVs for prevention of HIV transmission from mother to child. In Afghanistan, the partnership is supporting NGOs to train women to become community health nurses, promoting expanded access to health services for women in a culture that discourages treatment by a health care worker of the opposite sex; UNDP’s support to the Government of Togo in implementing Global Fund financing facilitated the access and retention of 56,000 people on ARVs, 70% of whom were women; and UNDP facilitated the implementation of a training for the country coordination mechanism [CCM] in South Sudan on the intersection of gender with HIV, TB and malaria.


UNDP worked in 41 countries on promoting gender equality and addressing gender-based violence. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, UNDP supported 15,000 women and girls living with HIV to exercise their rights and access health and legal services. This work included promoting gender equality in HIV service provision in Bosnia and Herzegovina; improving access to antiretroviral therapy, HIV testing and counselling and legal aid services in Tajikistan and TB-related services in Turkmenistan; and raising awareness of women’s rights in Ukraine.


Within the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, UNDP supported eight country programmes in Africa and five in Latin America. For example, in Nigeria, UNDP supported the Government to expand access to justice programmes and to establish facilities to document sexual and gender-based violence, to provide post-violence care services and safe homes to survivors, and to facilitate community dialogues on local justice and security issues.


In Egypt, UNDP together with UNFPA, continued to support the Doctors Against FGM initiative with the National Council for Women and the Ministry of Health. The main aim of the initiative is to integrate a module on the harms of FGM and the paralegal aspect of engaging in the practice of FGM within the medical curricula taught in Egyptian medical schools. The initiative also encourages practicing physicians to denounce the practice of FGM and to counsel families on its harms.

The Special Programme on Research in Human Reproduction [HRP], co-sponsored by UNDP and other UN entities published a policy brief on routine elective caesarean section for women living with HIV which promotes the rights of women living with HIV to be included in decision-making around choice of modes of delivery. HRP also published an Inter-Agency joint statement on eliminating virginity testing commonly practiced in at least 20 countries as having no scientific or clinical basis and calling for a ban on them.


Commitment Progress

UNDP supports governments in strengthening enabling legal and policy environments that promote and protect the sexual reproductive health and rights of women and girls.  Support from UNDP and its partners resulted in 40 countries that have shown progress in addressing at least one law or policy that presents a barrier to delivery of HIV services. The Report of the Global Commission on HIV and the law continues to provide an important framework for ongoing work to promote a rights-based response to the HIV epidemic and to compel countries to reform punitive laws and policies that impede the AIDS response and promote gender equality, empowerment of women and girls, as well as advance access to services for children and young people.

Since the release of the Commission’s report, UNDP, in collaboration with UNAIDS cosponsors, the Secretariat, UN Member States and civil society has worked in 88 countries to support implementation of the Commission’s recommendations to remove human rights and legal barriers to HIV and health services and increase rights-based programming. This work included supporting legal environment assessments (LEAs) and legal reviews in 52 countries. LEAs and legal reviews have resulted in concrete changes to law and policy that have improved the lives of women around the world, reducing their vulnerability to HIV infection and promoting utilization of life-saving HIV and SRHR services. In Mozambique, a legal review and engagement with parliamentarians led to the removal of a Penal Code provision that allowed rapists to avoid criminal proceedings if they married their victims. In Thailand, UNDP is supporting the implementation of the Gender Equality Act 2015 and supporting the development of mechanisms to monitor its implementation and access redress. Through the support of UNDP and partners, the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) adopted the Model Law on Eradicating Child Marriage and Protecting Children Already in Marriage. SADC Member States will be required to adapt their national laws to the Model Law.

UNDP has continued to support initiatives aimed at improving access to justice for human rights violations such as gender-based violence (GBV) and discrimination in various contexts, including in health care settings. Since the commitment in 2015, 1,785,035 women have benefited from access to legal aid services in 38 countries through the support of UNDP and partners. UNDP support in 12 countries also contributed cumulatively to 41,702 new GBV cases receiving judgement, including through support to Saturday courts to clear the backlog of GBV cases in Sierra Leone. Assessment of sexual violence against minors conducted in Afghanistan in 2017 led to the development of a training curriculum with subsequent training of stakeholders conducted in various provinces across Afghanistan.
UNDP together with civil society partners engaged Member States and other stakeholders on ‘Masculinities and Violence in Crisis Settings,’ and partnerships for programming on gender, peace and security. UNDP has completed a research paper, Masculinities and Violence in Fragile and Crisis Settings. A Framework for Policy and Programming. Recommendations from the research are informing the UNDP recovery policy and GBV prevention work.


Gender equality and women’s empowerment are key drivers of sustainable development.  Hence, the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is central to UNDP’s mission of eradicating poverty and reducing inequalities and exclusion.  UNDP commits to improving HIV, health and development outcomes for women and girls by supporting multisectoral action to address and prevent gender-based violence, strengthen enabling legal and policy environments, and promote equal access to sexual reproductive health and rights for women and girls in 80 low- and middle-income countries by 2020.

Key actions include: (1) Supporting countries to review, revise and adopt programmes, policies and laws necessary for advancing gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, including addressing the conflicts between formal and informal legal systems and related practices; (2) Strengthening enabling legal and policy environments that promote and protect the sexual reproductive health and rights of women and girls; (3) Improving access to justice for human rights violations such as gender-based violence and discrimination in various contexts, including in health care settings; (4) Supporting countries to engage men and boy in transforming social norms and behaviours that contribute to better HIV, health and development outcomes.
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