icasa-2015_mediumThe World YWCA is participating in this week’s ICASA event. The International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa (ICASA) is a major international AIDS conference which takes place in Africa. Its current biennial hosting alternates between Anglophone and Francophone African countries. The 2015 ICASA is being held in Harare, Zimbabwe taking place from 29 November – 4 December.

The hosting of this Conference in Harare, Zimbabwe is highly symbolic as the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) will be held in Durban, South Africa from July 17 to 22, 2016. It is expected that at ICASA, the World YWCA will have the opportunity to share and highlight activities and lessons learned from a number of programmes that they are implementing in different African countries with a focus on HIV, SRHR, Child Marriage, Economic empowerment and ICT.  One of its successful program has been the NORAD funded programme on Mobilising Faith Based Communities on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights in Africa Project (the “SRHR and HIV Programme”), a joint, multi-country programme being implemented by the World YWCA, along with its partners the World Council of Churches and funded by the Government of Norway for work on SRHR and HIV in Angola, Benin, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Zambia. The World YWCA will also use this opportunity to prepare for participation in AIDS 2016, and improve documentation derived from the SRHR and HIV Programme experience on the role that faith communities and young people, particularly women, play in HIV prevention, treatment and care, using a gender equality and human rights lens, to show concrete impact on the epidemic in Africa.

THE OBJECTIVES OF ICASA 2015:

  1. Increase African leadership and ownership, as well as investment in financing to support the continental health response.
  2. Strengthen the interaction between the public health, science and human right approaches in the control and elimination of the HIV/AIDS and associate diseases.
  3. Improve awareness and learning on knowledge, skills, best practices from the response to AIDS and other emergent epidemics (EBOLA, HEPATITIS, SRAS and NCD’s).
  4. Promote the development and scale up of evidence-based interventions for HIV/AIDS and associate diseases in the post 2015 era.

Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday. Of the top ten countries with the highest rates of child marriage, seven of the ten are in Africa. Child marriage is an inter-generational issue that manifests itself within the intersection of poverty, negative cultural practices and disempowerment for women. It is a consequence of gender inequalities just as much as it is exacerbated by conflict, wars and violence.  It is therefore important to emphasise how a holistic human rights based approach in programmes addressing girls’ health, can contribute to reaching the target of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.