Washington D.C. — On March 14 at the White House, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Melanne Verveer and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby announced a joint initiative to provide $4.65 million in small grants to grassroots organizations to address gender-based violence (GBV) issues. With funding from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the initiative supports programs that prevent and respond to GBV, with a link to HIV prevention, treatment and care. Grants of up to $100,000 for programs that leverage existing HIV/AIDS platforms will be awarded to organizations working in one of more than 80 PEPFAR countries. U.S. Embassies and Consulates will oversee and support these grants.
Addressing gender inequities and norms is essential to reducing the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV infection. One in three women worldwide will experience GBV in their lifetime, and in some countries, 70 percent of female populations are affected. Gender-based violence increases women and girls’ overall vulnerability to HIV, with country studies indicating an up to three-fold risk of HIV infection among women who experience violence. GBV also fosters the spread of HIV by limiting women’s ability to negotiate safe sexual practices, disclose HIV status and access services, due to fear of further violence. While women and girls are the most affected by GBV, men and boys are also victims of these abuses.
The U.S. Government, including the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI) at the Department of State and the interagency PEPFAR initiative, is committed to advancing women’s health and rights, a core principle of the U.S. Global Health Initiative. Through the GBV small grants program, grassroots organizations will receive support to prevent and respond to GBV, helping to address the structural drivers of both violence and HIV. In addition, the grants will strengthen the capacity of such organizations to access other sources of funding. This will contribute to a longer-term effort to create an AIDS-free generation and societies free of violence, where women and men can realize their full potential. The State Department and sister agencies across the U.S. Government stand with partners across the globe in expressing American values by responding to the global GBV pandemic.