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Latin American churches and organizations

01 December 2004

Message from churches, organizations and programmes on World AIDS Day 2004

Women, Girls and HIV/AIDS 

"Many women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and given him support were also there, watching from a distance" (Matthew 27: 55)  

Introduction:  

1. As representatives of different Christian communities committed to education for prevention, awareness raising and promotion of the human rights of people affected by HIV/AIDS, and accompaniment and solidarity, we wish to use these words to put our feelings into action.  

2. From the start of the epidemic, women, girls and children have not been watching from a distance, but have been involved in different ways and following from close by the progress of the illness. Contrary to the statistics, women and girls have been at the bedsides of many patients in a brave testimony of solidarity and standing up to fear and to cultural, social and religious prejudice. This is why today we raise our voices and our actions to commemorate and look to as an example all the many faces of women who, as mothers, wives, daughters, nurses, doctors, friends, companions, volunteers, are committed to life and to human dignity. We are witnesses to their presence which has lit a path which seemed full of doubts and fears.  

3. Many women who at first were at the bedside of a person living with HIV/AIDS are today themselves occupying those beds. We acknowledge that women have been "like a voice calling in the desert" (Matthew 3:3), calling society and the churches to justice, education, prevention campaigns and the implementation of measures which could have avoided this crisis situation.  

4. Women and girls living with HIV/AIDS experience the consequences of the inadequate policies and the inaction of many churches and religious leaders, who knew neither how to prevent the virus nor how to combat the stigma and discrimination which continues to affect these women. Today we join with them so that together we can build the firm, constant and responsible awareness which will make for a healthy and dignified future.  

5. It is our desire and will to create spaces within the Christian communities and within society where the voices and stories of women living with HIV/AIDS can be heard and where their life stories can serve as opportunities to change the hearts and minds of our churches and societies. We want to listen to the voices of women and girls to understand that the prevention of the epidemic demands an understanding which transcends the virus itself. By understanding the realities of the day to day lives of women and girls, we can understand why they are more vulnerable.  

6. We want to recognize that in the response to the epidemic, both our societies and our Christian communities have placed on the shoulders of women and girls unfair burdens of care. At the bedside of a man, we have always found women, who took on multiple roles but did not abandon their loved ones or their neighbors in need. Today we know that when women are ill, men do not always take on the same responsibilities. As communities, we want to ask their forgiveness and commit ourselves to changing this situation.  

7. The Christian communities who support this message renounce the lack of gender equity and the stereotyped responsibilities imposed on women and girls. It is not enough to recognize that the face of AIDS is becoming younger, poorer and more female. We must together undertake actions to change this situation.  

8. This is why on this World AIDS Day 2004 we commit to co-operating with civil society organizations in a campaign to raise awareness in our churches and among all men and women of good will of the realities which women and girls are facing in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  

Many women and girls are vulnerable to HIV because of the high-risk behavior of others.

9. This is why through this message we want to support and strengthen pastoral and educational action which contributes to reducing the vulnerability of women and girls with HIV and AIDS. Christian communities must break the silence and demonstrate our commitment to remove from society and from our Christian communities the cultural and sexual practices which are the fruit of gender inequality and at the root of this vulnerability. This requires a clear voice of denouncement and transformation.  

10. We want to reinforce positive male behavior which challenges cultural, social and religious patterns of exclusion and vulnerability of women who live with or who are affected by HIV and AIDS. It is important to seek models for the construction of a society which is more just, egalitarian and with more solidarity. We want to emphasize values of dignity, building prevention campaigns which are based on equality, human rights, respect for diversity and the feelings of all men and women.  

11. We want to raise our voices and actions. We do not want to close our eyes to the abuse and violence faced by many women and girls in Latin America. We want our communities to be safe spaces which protect the rights, dignity, equality and diversity of all men and women. We want to say no more impunity for physical, psychological, economic, social, cultural and religious violence which faces many women and girls, not just in society but also within our Christian communities.  

12. We denounce the economic dependence of women and girls, the cultural and social behavior of many men, and the legal and religious limitations facing many women and girls, who have no option or other horizons, and who are forced into unsafe sexual and human relationships and practices. 

13. We want to build a society in which relationships between people are founded on the values of the Kingdom of God. This is the kingdom which we beg to come each day, and this is the will of God which we want to see fulfilled.  

Women maintain family and community unity and are a strong force for prevention of HIV and AIDS.  

14. We recognize the important role of women in supporting their families and in fulfilling most of the caring responsibilities. As Christian communities, we want to challenge this cultural practice and promote a change of attitudes, behaviours and thinking. It is our task to highlight all the positive signs of progress towards a more equal community, and relationships of greater solidarity between people.  

Women leaders must be encouraged to talk openly about HIV and AIDS. 

15. Our aspiration is that women's groups which exist and which work within our Christian communities should become ambassadors for a message of liberation and supporters of the UNAIDS campaign on Women, Girls and HIV/AIDS. We commit to promoting women leaders who are able at national and local level to take on and lead actions that speak openly about AIDS.  

Men and boys, and Christian communities in general, have a crucial role to play and will also benefit from this emphasis on women and girls.  

16. With this message we want to achieve greater gender equity which will have positive repercussions on women and men. Undoubtedly, men are also vulnerable to HIV infection because of gender inequality, although in a different way and for different reasons. Because of this, we want to challenge gender norms which encourage men into risk behaviours which have the sole objective of demonstrating their masculinity.  

17. By talking about gender differences imposed by social, economic and religious culture, we want to achieve the objective of building the capacity of women to be aware of these situations and to raise the awareness of men, boys and Christian communities to be the voice of men and women who do not have a voice and who are invisibilised.  

Women can work against HIV-related stigma and discrimination from the heart of the Christian communities they are part of.  

18. We encourage women to use their influence in the faith organizations to which they belong. We encourage them to use their influence in the workplace, in voluntary organizations, businesses and support groups, to contribute to the prevention of HIV and the education in human rights and against the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV.  

19. Our religious organizations must exert specific influence, given that spiritual leaders have institutional authority. This responsibility provides the opportunity to share correct and scientifically-accurate information on HIV/AIDS, to eradicate discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS. Our religious organizations play a crucial role in many cultural contexts because of their ability to push for an effective response to HIV/AIDS.  

20. Our organizations and our community leaders must strengthen their commitment to justice and support the realization of rights so that people can reconcile themselves with life and overcome feelings of guilt, denial, stigma and discrimination, as well as opening new paths to hope, knowledge, prevention and treatment.  

Health services appropriate for women will improve the access of women and their children to healthcare.  

21. In our Latin American cultures, women are the last to receive health attention. In the Bible, the miracles of Jesus speak of health for all men and women as one of the signs of the coming of his kingdom. This is the foundation for our wish to remedy this gender inequality. We commit to promoting integrated healthcare which includes the best treatment, and specially access to ARVs for all men and women.  

22. AIDS intensifies the feminization of poverty and incapacitates women especially in the most affected countries. The whole family becomes more vulnerable when women spend more time caring for the sick at the expense of other production activities for the benefit of the family.  

23. According to our commitment to bear witness to and denounce poverty and social inequality, and to evangelize for a just world, we propose:

  • Highlighting the magnitude and the implications of unpaid care work carried out by women.

  • Encourage governments, policy makers at national and international level, communities and families to recognize the urgent need to increase and extend social protection and remuneration for community and home based careers.

  • Promote changes in the gendered division of domestic tasks and achieve a balance of caring responsibilities.  

The education of girls reduces their vulnerability to HIV. 

24. Girls are the first to be taken out of school to take care of family members who are sick, or to look after younger siblings. HIV and AIDS threatens recent progress made in basic education of girls, and disproportionately affects the schooling of girls.  

25. Going to school provides protection. Education provides basic protection against the discrimination of HIV and the impact of AIDS. There is growing evidence to prove this.  

26. According to our commitment to bear witness to and denounce poverty and social inequality, and to evangelize for a just world, we propose:

  • Achieving schooling for girls, and ensuring a safe environment which permits them to continue attending school.

  • Provide education based on life skills, with a focus on gender issues.

  • Protect women and girls from violence, exploitation and discrimination in schools and in their environments.  

A better range of prevention options could help women to protect themselves.  

27. Education constitutes a basis for extending and improving prevention programmes focused specifically on women and girls. 

28. Compared to men, women are twice as likely to contract HIV through unprotected sex, but they depend on the cooperation of men to avoid infection. 

29. Microbicides are one of the most promising prevention options on the horizon. With political will and enough resources, the first generation of microbicides could be ready for distribution in 5 - 7 years. However, the investment in research and development of microbicides must be radically increased immediately if the hopes which have been raised are to be met.  

Violence against women increases the spread of HIV. No violence of any kind should be tolerated.  

30. Violence against women is a significant human rights and public health problems in Latin America. This violence increases women's vulnerability to HIV.  

31. Violence against women is common in almost all societies. It is supported by the discrimination and subordination of women, and at the same time reinforces and perpetuates these.  

32. The high rate of non-consensual sex, women's inability to negotiate sage sex, and in many cases, their fear of being abandoned or of being thrown out of their homes and communities, are extremely challenges, particularly for women of few financial resources.  

33. As Christian men and women committed to Jesus Christ, we reject all forms of violence against women and girls. We commit to working to make our Christian communities safe places where: we care for life, we create spaces to listen to women, and for women and girls living with HIV and AIDS to participate and to realize their human rights, and to work with them as agents for change.  

Women should represent half of those receiving antiretroviral drugs. 

34. As Christian communities, we commit to supporting all the efforts which aim to ensure that in 2005 at least half of those with access to ARVs should be women.  

35. Christian communities should develop principles and mechanisms to promote and provide equal access to care and ARV treatment for women and girls, including excluded groups of people living with HIV/AIDS.  

36. We need to incorporate well-evidenced messages on access to treatment for women and girls, as well as guaranteeing a respect for gender equity as a fundamental need in the development of programmes to increase the access to all forms of care and treatment.  

37. According to our commitment to bear witness to and denounce poverty and social inequality, and to evangelize for a just world, we seek to provide:

  • Leadership training -Promote the active participation of women and girls in the prevention of the epidemic.

  • Support -Listening to the stories which women and girls living with HIV/AIDS want to share.

  • Awareness raising - Emphasize the impact of HIV and AIDS on women and girls internationally, regionally and nationally.

  • Change - Challenge gender differences which make women and girls more vulnerable to HIV.

  • National frameworks - Ensure that national policies and responses are focused on the impact of AIDS on women and girls.

  • Confidence - Increase the self-esteem of women, particularly those who are vulnerable to HIV or who are living with HIV. 

Commitment to the Declaration of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS)

Increase the knowledge, credibility and legitimacy of the goals of the Declaration of Commitment issued by governments involved in the Special Session on HIV/AIDS of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS) in relation to women and girls.  

38. In the Bible, women were the first witnesses to the victory of life over death and they were charged with the apostolic mission of announcing this message of hope to all human beings (John 20: 18). We are sure that in the context of the HIV and AIDS crisis, women and girls can also be the bearers of a message of solidarity and equality in diversity, whose fundamental principles are respect for the dignity and rights of all men and women. 

CHURCHES AND ORGANISATIONS SUPPORTING THIS MESSAGE: 

CHURCHES:

  • Ejército de Salvación - Territorio Sudamericano Este.

  • Equipo de la Misión María Magdalena (IELU) (Resistencia. Chaco. Argentina)

  • Federación Argentina de Iglesias Evangélicas (FAIE) (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias (CLAI) Regional Río de la Plata.

  • Foro de las Mujeres del Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias (CLAI) en Argentina.

  • Hermanas Misioneras Redentoristas.

  • Iglesia de la Comunidad Metropolitana (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Iglesia Discípulos de Cristo (Argentina)

  • Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en Chile

  • Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Unida (Argentina - Uruguay)

  • Iglesia Luterana Costarricense (ILCO). (Costa Rica)

  • Iglesia Luterana en Chile

  • Iglesias Reformadas en Argentina

  • Iglesia Evangélica Valdense del Río de la Plata (Argentina - Uruguay)

  • Igreja Evangélica de Confissão Luterana no Brasil

  • Ministerio de Restauración y Consolación HESED (Lima. Perú)

  • Sínodo Luterano Salvadoreño (San Salvador. El Salvador)

ORGANIZATIONS AND PROGRAMMES:

  • Acción Ecuménica. (Caracas. Venezuela)

  • Amigos en Camino (Religiosos Católicos Acompañando a Personas que Viven con VIH-SIDA). (Lima. Perú)

  • ASIVIDA (Bogotá. Colombia)

  • Asociación Civil Benghalensis (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Asociación Cristiana Femenina do Brasil

  • Asociación Cristiana Femenina de El Salvador (World Young Women's Christian Association)

  • Asociación Cristiana Femenina de México (World Young Women's Christian Association. México)

  • Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes (ACJ-YMCA) de El Salvador

  • Asociación YANAPAQ (Escuela de Autogestión). (Lima. Perú)

  • Autoconvocados contra el SIDA. (La Plata, Berisso y Ensenada. Argentina)

  • Cátedra Libre de SIDA. Universidad Nacional de La Plata. (Argentina)

  • Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (Córdoba. Argentina)

  • Centro de Espiritualidad Meaux (Puno. Perú)

  • Centro Ecuménico de Acción Solidaria (CEASOL) (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Centro Integral de la Mujer, el Niño y el Joven. (CIM) (La Plata. Argentina)

  • Centro Parroquial Ecuménico Rosa Blanca (Lima. Perú)

  • Centro Regional Ecuménico de Asesoría y Servicio (CREAS) (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Comisión Argentina para los Refugiados (CAREF) (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Comunidad del Discípulo Amado (Bogotá-Medellín. Colombia)

  • Coordinadora  Peruana de Personas Viviendo con VIH-SIDA "Peruanos Positivos" (Lima. Perú)

  • Diaconía/Programa de Apoio à Açao Diaconal das Igrejas. (Recife. Brasil)

  • Ediciones La Nueva Humanidad. (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Encuentro de Organizaciones No Gubernamentales con Trabajo en VIH-SIDA de la República Argentina.

  • Escuela Sor Juan Inés de la Cruz. (Tehuacan. Puebla. México)

  • Federación de las Asociaciones Cristianas Femeninas de la República Argentina (YWCA)

  • Fundación Argentina Pro Ayuda al Niño con SIDA (FAPANS) (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Fundación Descida (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Fundación Kairos (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Fundación para Estudio  e Investigación de la Mujer (FEIM) (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Fundación Educación Popular en Salud (EPES) (Santiago de Chile)

  • Fundación Proyecto VIDA (Maracay. Venezuela)

  • Fundación Santa Clara (Caracas. Venezuela)

  • Génesis. Grupo Cristiano Ecuménico LGGT (Ciudad de México. México)

  • ICW LAC (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Instituto de Educación y Desarrollo Sustentable OIKOS. (San José. Costa Rica)

  • Intilla. Asociación Civil. (Pcia. de Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Liga Bonaerense de Diversidad Sexual (Pcia. de Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Movimiento Ecuménico por los Derechos Humanos (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Oficina Conjunta de Proyectos IELU-IERP (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Otras Ovejas. Ministerios Multiculturales con Minorías Sexuales (México)

  • Pastoral de las Mujeres y Justicia de Género del Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias (CLAI)

  • Pastoral Ecuménica VIH-SIDA (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Programa Universitario de Estudios Sociales en VIH-SIDA. Universidad Iberoamericana  Puebla. Dr. Marco Hernán Quezada S.J.  (Puebla-México)

  • Programa de Incidencia sobre Deuda Externa e Ilegítima en América Latina y el Caribe. Federación Luterana Mundial. Rev. Ángel F. Furlan. (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Programa de Soporte a la Autoayuda de Personas Seropositivas (PROSA). (Lima. Perú)

  • Red de Salud 2124 - Villa 21 y 24. Zabaleta. Barracas (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Visión Mundial. Oficina Regional para América Latina y el Caribe. (San José. Costa Rica)

  • YWCA (World Young Wome's Christian Association) Asociación Cristiana Femenina de Chile.

Message from churches, organizations and programmes on World AIDS Day 2004

Women, Girls and HIV/AIDS 

"Many women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and given him support were also there, watching from a distance" (Matthew 27: 55)  

Introduction:  

1. As representatives of different Christian communities committed to education for prevention, awareness raising and promotion of the human rights of people affected by HIV/AIDS, and accompaniment and solidarity, we wish to use these words to put our feelings into action.  

2. From the start of the epidemic, women, girls and children have not been watching from a distance, but have been involved in different ways and following from close by the progress of the illness. Contrary to the statistics, women and girls have been at the bedsides of many patients in a brave testimony of solidarity and standing up to fear and to cultural, social and religious prejudice. This is why today we raise our voices and our actions to commemorate and look to as an example all the many faces of women who, as mothers, wives, daughters, nurses, doctors, friends, companions, volunteers, are committed to life and to human dignity. We are witnesses to their presence which has lit a path which seemed full of doubts and fears.  

3. Many women who at first were at the bedside of a person living with HIV/AIDS are today themselves occupying those beds. We acknowledge that women have been "like a voice calling in the desert" (Matthew 3:3), calling society and the churches to justice, education, prevention campaigns and the implementation of measures which could have avoided this crisis situation.  

4. Women and girls living with HIV/AIDS experience the consequences of the inadequate policies and the inaction of many churches and religious leaders, who knew neither how to prevent the virus nor how to combat the stigma and discrimination which continues to affect these women. Today we join with them so that together we can build the firm, constant and responsible awareness which will make for a healthy and dignified future.  

5. It is our desire and will to create spaces within the Christian communities and within society where the voices and stories of women living with HIV/AIDS can be heard and where their life stories can serve as opportunities to change the hearts and minds of our churches and societies. We want to listen to the voices of women and girls to understand that the prevention of the epidemic demands an understanding which transcends the virus itself. By understanding the realities of the day to day lives of women and girls, we can understand why they are more vulnerable.  

6. We want to recognize that in the response to the epidemic, both our societies and our Christian communities have placed on the shoulders of women and girls unfair burdens of care. At the bedside of a man, we have always found women, who took on multiple roles but did not abandon their loved ones or their neighbors in need. Today we know that when women are ill, men do not always take on the same responsibilities. As communities, we want to ask their forgiveness and commit ourselves to changing this situation.  

7. The Christian communities who support this message renounce the lack of gender equity and the stereotyped responsibilities imposed on women and girls. It is not enough to recognize that the face of AIDS is becoming younger, poorer and more female. We must together undertake actions to change this situation.  

8. This is why on this World AIDS Day 2004 we commit to co-operating with civil society organizations in a campaign to raise awareness in our churches and among all men and women of good will of the realities which women and girls are facing in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  

Many women and girls are vulnerable to HIV because of the high-risk behavior of others.

9. This is why through this message we want to support and strengthen pastoral and educational action which contributes to reducing the vulnerability of women and girls with HIV and AIDS. Christian communities must break the silence and demonstrate our commitment to remove from society and from our Christian communities the cultural and sexual practices which are the fruit of gender inequality and at the root of this vulnerability. This requires a clear voice of denouncement and transformation.  

10. We want to reinforce positive male behavior which challenges cultural, social and religious patterns of exclusion and vulnerability of women who live with or who are affected by HIV and AIDS. It is important to seek models for the construction of a society which is more just, egalitarian and with more solidarity. We want to emphasize values of dignity, building prevention campaigns which are based on equality, human rights, respect for diversity and the feelings of all men and women.  

11. We want to raise our voices and actions. We do not want to close our eyes to the abuse and violence faced by many women and girls in Latin America. We want our communities to be safe spaces which protect the rights, dignity, equality and diversity of all men and women. We want to say no more impunity for physical, psychological, economic, social, cultural and religious violence which faces many women and girls, not just in society but also within our Christian communities.  

12. We denounce the economic dependence of women and girls, the cultural and social behavior of many men, and the legal and religious limitations facing many women and girls, who have no option or other horizons, and who are forced into unsafe sexual and human relationships and practices. 

13. We want to build a society in which relationships between people are founded on the values of the Kingdom of God. This is the kingdom which we beg to come each day, and this is the will of God which we want to see fulfilled.  

Women maintain family and community unity and are a strong force for prevention of HIV and AIDS.  

14. We recognize the important role of women in supporting their families and in fulfilling most of the caring responsibilities. As Christian communities, we want to challenge this cultural practice and promote a change of attitudes, behaviours and thinking. It is our task to highlight all the positive signs of progress towards a more equal community, and relationships of greater solidarity between people.  

Women leaders must be encouraged to talk openly about HIV and AIDS. 

15. Our aspiration is that women's groups which exist and which work within our Christian communities should become ambassadors for a message of liberation and supporters of the UNAIDS campaign on Women, Girls and HIV/AIDS. We commit to promoting women leaders who are able at national and local level to take on and lead actions that speak openly about AIDS.  

Men and boys, and Christian communities in general, have a crucial role to play and will also benefit from this emphasis on women and girls.  

16. With this message we want to achieve greater gender equity which will have positive repercussions on women and men. Undoubtedly, men are also vulnerable to HIV infection because of gender inequality, although in a different way and for different reasons. Because of this, we want to challenge gender norms which encourage men into risk behaviours which have the sole objective of demonstrating their masculinity.  

17. By talking about gender differences imposed by social, economic and religious culture, we want to achieve the objective of building the capacity of women to be aware of these situations and to raise the awareness of men, boys and Christian communities to be the voice of men and women who do not have a voice and who are invisibilised.  

Women can work against HIV-related stigma and discrimination from the heart of the Christian communities they are part of.  

18. We encourage women to use their influence in the faith organizations to which they belong. We encourage them to use their influence in the workplace, in voluntary organizations, businesses and support groups, to contribute to the prevention of HIV and the education in human rights and against the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV.  

19. Our religious organizations must exert specific influence, given that spiritual leaders have institutional authority. This responsibility provides the opportunity to share correct and scientifically-accurate information on HIV/AIDS, to eradicate discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS. Our religious organizations play a crucial role in many cultural contexts because of their ability to push for an effective response to HIV/AIDS.  

20. Our organizations and our community leaders must strengthen their commitment to justice and support the realization of rights so that people can reconcile themselves with life and overcome feelings of guilt, denial, stigma and discrimination, as well as opening new paths to hope, knowledge, prevention and treatment.  

Health services appropriate for women will improve the access of women and their children to healthcare.  

21. In our Latin American cultures, women are the last to receive health attention. In the Bible, the miracles of Jesus speak of health for all men and women as one of the signs of the coming of his kingdom. This is the foundation for our wish to remedy this gender inequality. We commit to promoting integrated healthcare which includes the best treatment, and specially access to ARVs for all men and women.  

22. AIDS intensifies the feminization of poverty and incapacitates women especially in the most affected countries. The whole family becomes more vulnerable when women spend more time caring for the sick at the expense of other production activities for the benefit of the family.  

23. According to our commitment to bear witness to and denounce poverty and social inequality, and to evangelize for a just world, we propose:

  • Highlighting the magnitude and the implications of unpaid care work carried out by women.

  • Encourage governments, policy makers at national and international level, communities and families to recognize the urgent need to increase and extend social protection and remuneration for community and home based careers.

  • Promote changes in the gendered division of domestic tasks and achieve a balance of caring responsibilities.  

The education of girls reduces their vulnerability to HIV. 

24. Girls are the first to be taken out of school to take care of family members who are sick, or to look after younger siblings. HIV and AIDS threatens recent progress made in basic education of girls, and disproportionately affects the schooling of girls.  

25. Going to school provides protection. Education provides basic protection against the discrimination of HIV and the impact of AIDS. There is growing evidence to prove this.  

26. According to our commitment to bear witness to and denounce poverty and social inequality, and to evangelize for a just world, we propose:

  • Achieving schooling for girls, and ensuring a safe environment which permits them to continue attending school.

  • Provide education based on life skills, with a focus on gender issues.

  • Protect women and girls from violence, exploitation and discrimination in schools and in their environments.  

A better range of prevention options could help women to protect themselves.  

27. Education constitutes a basis for extending and improving prevention programmes focused specifically on women and girls. 

28. Compared to men, women are twice as likely to contract HIV through unprotected sex, but they depend on the cooperation of men to avoid infection. 

29. Microbicides are one of the most promising prevention options on the horizon. With political will and enough resources, the first generation of microbicides could be ready for distribution in 5 - 7 years. However, the investment in research and development of microbicides must be radically increased immediately if the hopes which have been raised are to be met.  

Violence against women increases the spread of HIV. No violence of any kind should be tolerated.  

30. Violence against women is a significant human rights and public health problems in Latin America. This violence increases women's vulnerability to HIV.  

31. Violence against women is common in almost all societies. It is supported by the discrimination and subordination of women, and at the same time reinforces and perpetuates these.  

32. The high rate of non-consensual sex, women's inability to negotiate sage sex, and in many cases, their fear of being abandoned or of being thrown out of their homes and communities, are extremely challenges, particularly for women of few financial resources.  

33. As Christian men and women committed to Jesus Christ, we reject all forms of violence against women and girls. We commit to working to make our Christian communities safe places where: we care for life, we create spaces to listen to women, and for women and girls living with HIV and AIDS to participate and to realize their human rights, and to work with them as agents for change.  

Women should represent half of those receiving antiretroviral drugs. 

34. As Christian communities, we commit to supporting all the efforts which aim to ensure that in 2005 at least half of those with access to ARVs should be women.  

35. Christian communities should develop principles and mechanisms to promote and provide equal access to care and ARV treatment for women and girls, including excluded groups of people living with HIV/AIDS.  

36. We need to incorporate well-evidenced messages on access to treatment for women and girls, as well as guaranteeing a respect for gender equity as a fundamental need in the development of programmes to increase the access to all forms of care and treatment.  

37. According to our commitment to bear witness to and denounce poverty and social inequality, and to evangelize for a just world, we seek to provide:

  • Leadership training -Promote the active participation of women and girls in the prevention of the epidemic.

  • Support -Listening to the stories which women and girls living with HIV/AIDS want to share.

  • Awareness raising - Emphasize the impact of HIV and AIDS on women and girls internationally, regionally and nationally.

  • Change - Challenge gender differences which make women and girls more vulnerable to HIV.

  • National frameworks - Ensure that national policies and responses are focused on the impact of AIDS on women and girls.

  • Confidence - Increase the self-esteem of women, particularly those who are vulnerable to HIV or who are living with HIV. 

Commitment to the Declaration of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS)

Increase the knowledge, credibility and legitimacy of the goals of the Declaration of Commitment issued by governments involved in the Special Session on HIV/AIDS of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGASS) in relation to women and girls.  

38. In the Bible, women were the first witnesses to the victory of life over death and they were charged with the apostolic mission of announcing this message of hope to all human beings (John 20: 18). We are sure that in the context of the HIV and AIDS crisis, women and girls can also be the bearers of a message of solidarity and equality in diversity, whose fundamental principles are respect for the dignity and rights of all men and women. 

CHURCHES AND ORGANISATIONS SUPPORTING THIS MESSAGE: 

CHURCHES:

  • Ejército de Salvación - Territorio Sudamericano Este.

  • Equipo de la Misión María Magdalena (IELU) (Resistencia. Chaco. Argentina)

  • Federación Argentina de Iglesias Evangélicas (FAIE) (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias (CLAI) Regional Río de la Plata.

  • Foro de las Mujeres del Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias (CLAI) en Argentina.

  • Hermanas Misioneras Redentoristas.

  • Iglesia de la Comunidad Metropolitana (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Iglesia Discípulos de Cristo (Argentina)

  • Iglesia Evangélica Luterana en Chile

  • Iglesia Evangélica Luterana Unida (Argentina - Uruguay)

  • Iglesia Luterana Costarricense (ILCO). (Costa Rica)

  • Iglesia Luterana en Chile

  • Iglesias Reformadas en Argentina

  • Iglesia Evangélica Valdense del Río de la Plata (Argentina - Uruguay)

  • Igreja Evangélica de Confissão Luterana no Brasil

  • Ministerio de Restauración y Consolación HESED (Lima. Perú)

  • Sínodo Luterano Salvadoreño (San Salvador. El Salvador)

ORGANIZATIONS AND PROGRAMMES:

  • Acción Ecuménica. (Caracas. Venezuela)

  • Amigos en Camino (Religiosos Católicos Acompañando a Personas que Viven con VIH-SIDA). (Lima. Perú)

  • ASIVIDA (Bogotá. Colombia)

  • Asociación Civil Benghalensis (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Asociación Cristiana Femenina do Brasil

  • Asociación Cristiana Femenina de El Salvador (World Young Women's Christian Association)

  • Asociación Cristiana Femenina de México (World Young Women's Christian Association. México)

  • Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes (ACJ-YMCA) de El Salvador

  • Asociación YANAPAQ (Escuela de Autogestión). (Lima. Perú)

  • Autoconvocados contra el SIDA. (La Plata, Berisso y Ensenada. Argentina)

  • Cátedra Libre de SIDA. Universidad Nacional de La Plata. (Argentina)

  • Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir (Córdoba. Argentina)

  • Centro de Espiritualidad Meaux (Puno. Perú)

  • Centro Ecuménico de Acción Solidaria (CEASOL) (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Centro Integral de la Mujer, el Niño y el Joven. (CIM) (La Plata. Argentina)

  • Centro Parroquial Ecuménico Rosa Blanca (Lima. Perú)

  • Centro Regional Ecuménico de Asesoría y Servicio (CREAS) (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Comisión Argentina para los Refugiados (CAREF) (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Comunidad del Discípulo Amado (Bogotá-Medellín. Colombia)

  • Coordinadora  Peruana de Personas Viviendo con VIH-SIDA "Peruanos Positivos" (Lima. Perú)

  • Diaconía/Programa de Apoio à Açao Diaconal das Igrejas. (Recife. Brasil)

  • Ediciones La Nueva Humanidad. (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Encuentro de Organizaciones No Gubernamentales con Trabajo en VIH-SIDA de la República Argentina.

  • Escuela Sor Juan Inés de la Cruz. (Tehuacan. Puebla. México)

  • Federación de las Asociaciones Cristianas Femeninas de la República Argentina (YWCA)

  • Fundación Argentina Pro Ayuda al Niño con SIDA (FAPANS) (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Fundación Descida (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Fundación Kairos (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Fundación para Estudio  e Investigación de la Mujer (FEIM) (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Fundación Educación Popular en Salud (EPES) (Santiago de Chile)

  • Fundación Proyecto VIDA (Maracay. Venezuela)

  • Fundación Santa Clara (Caracas. Venezuela)

  • Génesis. Grupo Cristiano Ecuménico LGGT (Ciudad de México. México)

  • ICW LAC (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Instituto de Educación y Desarrollo Sustentable OIKOS. (San José. Costa Rica)

  • Intilla. Asociación Civil. (Pcia. de Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Liga Bonaerense de Diversidad Sexual (Pcia. de Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Movimiento Ecuménico por los Derechos Humanos (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Oficina Conjunta de Proyectos IELU-IERP (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Otras Ovejas. Ministerios Multiculturales con Minorías Sexuales (México)

  • Pastoral de las Mujeres y Justicia de Género del Consejo Latinoamericano de Iglesias (CLAI)

  • Pastoral Ecuménica VIH-SIDA (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Programa Universitario de Estudios Sociales en VIH-SIDA. Universidad Iberoamericana  Puebla. Dr. Marco Hernán Quezada S.J.  (Puebla-México)

  • Programa de Incidencia sobre Deuda Externa e Ilegítima en América Latina y el Caribe. Federación Luterana Mundial. Rev. Ángel F. Furlan. (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Programa de Soporte a la Autoayuda de Personas Seropositivas (PROSA). (Lima. Perú)

  • Red de Salud 2124 - Villa 21 y 24. Zabaleta. Barracas (Buenos Aires. Argentina)

  • Visión Mundial. Oficina Regional para América Latina y el Caribe. (San José. Costa Rica)

  • YWCA (World Young Wome's Christian Association) Asociación Cristiana Femenina de Chile.