Migiro calls for more rights for women in HIV/AIDS caregiving

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro addresses the opening session of the Commission on the Status of Women

2 March 2009 – Too many women shoulder the heaviest burden in caring for people living with HIV and AIDS, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said today, calling for greater balance in responsibilities between men and women.

This inequality “is unjust and a serious form of discrimination, even a form of violence” against women, she said in remarks in New York at the opening of the 53rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

Women are restricted in employment, education and public life, while men are held back from taking part in their families’ lives, she said. “Families, communities and society as a whole suffer the consequences.”

The HIV and AIDS pandemic has highlighted the need for a comprehensive approach, involving all members of society, to address this imbalance, Ms. Migiro emphasized.

She noted several steps that must be taken, including recognizing unpaid work and caregiving at the home and community level, as well as easing the burden of domestic and care responsibilities.

Further, the Deputy Secretary-General called for legislation and policies such as closing the pay gap between men and women and stepping up flexible work arrangements.

“Ensuring that caregivers have the means to do their work effectively has a cost that society must be ready to meet,” she underscored. “We must provide adequate resources to empower women and girls who are dedicating their time to looking after people living with HIV.”

Eliminating inequalities must be a priority, in spite of the challenges posed by the current global and economic crises that are thwarting progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight internationally agreed targets, including the eradication of poverty and gender inequality, with a 2015 deadline.

This session of the CSW will discuss the issue of unequal sharing of responsibilities between men and women in HIV/AIDS caregiving contexts through high-level roundtables and expert panels. UN agencies, permanent missions to the world body and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will host numerous parallel events during the two-week session.

In a related development, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the cosmetics company L’Oréal announced the names of the 15 promising young women post-doctoral researchers selected for fellowships as part of their efforts to foster global scientific cooperation.

The two-year fellowships will allow these scientists to pursue research outside their home countries.

In addition, the L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards For Women in Science – which seek to change the face of science and support the advancement of women in the scientific field – recognized five outstanding women researchers from five continents in recognition of their work in physical sciences.

Nominated by a network of almost 1,000 scientists worldwide, this year’s laureates were selected by an international jury comprising 17 leading scientists, presided over by Ahmed Zewail, winner of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Since its launch in 1998, more than 500 women researchers around the world have benefited from the L’Oréal and UNESCO’s joint “Women in Science” programme. Nearly 140 international and over 400 national fellowships have been awarded, while 57 women scientists have received L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards so far.


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