SheDecides: “We have to give real space for women to take leadership"

March 2 marks the first SheDecides Day, when political and community action come together to support a world where every girl and woman can decide what to do with her body, with her life, and with her future. Without question.

Across the globe events are taking place to celebrate a momentous year for women’s rights and to tell the world to stand up, speak out, change the rules and unlock resources for girls and women.

Christine Stegling, Executive Director of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and a SheDecides Champion, is lending her voice to the movement to ensure girls and women in all their diversity who are most impacted by HIV are not left behind in the global debate on gender equality.

This includes girls and women who are living with HIV, women who use drugs, sex workers and those who are lesbian, bisexual and transgender. Often, girls and women from these groups are marginalised and face multiple barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortion. They also struggle to have their voices heard in decision-making processes.

Christine said: “Women are now speaking out on their right to be free of violence to be free of sexual harassment. We will not end AIDS in 2030 unless we give the space to women and girls to ask for the right changes and to allow for those changes to happen.

“There’s been a lot of rhetoric over the last few years about women and equality, but in many areas of our lives we haven’t achieved that equality. This is the point now where we have to give real space for women to take leadership and to make it happen.”

Alongside SheDecides, the Alliance is running READY to Decide, in partnership with the Global Network of Young People Living with HIV (Y+). The campaign highlights the link between HIV and gender based violence and aims to ensure girls and young women live a life free of violence.

In her video to mark SheDecides Day, and in the lead up to International Women's Day (8 March), Christine reflects on the important role young women must play in making gender equality a reality.

Alliance staff and partners are marking the day and showing their support for the SheDecides movement in the photo gallery below.

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