Special Correspondent

Around 30 per cent of Red Ribbon Club officers are women

PPTCT programme is exclusive for child-bearing positive women

CHENNAI: Gender budgeting cannot be a token response, it will have to be incorporated in all levels of planning and policy, Supriya Sahu, project director, Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society, has said.

Providing doles to women and allotting a few schemes for their welfare will not do, she said. Gender response will have to be incorporated into services, expenditure and human resources.

She described the gender component of the HIV/AIDS intervention/response programme in the State in the following areas: prevention of parent to child transmission programme, voluntary counselling and testing centres, empowerment of self-help group (SHG) women, Red Ribbon Clubs to spread HIV awareness among college students, and the school AIDS education programme for children.

Around 30 per cent of Red Ribbon Club officers were women, as were 67 per cent of the SHG programme and 52 per cent of all counsellors and technicians, she said at a meeting on gender responsive budgeting, organised by Positive Women’s Network, Tamil Nadu.

Over the past five days positive women from all over the country discussed their issues and sought more power and representation in all levels of policymaking. They analysed 10 national schemes, and the levels of awareness of such programmes among positive people.

While the PPTCT programme was exclusive for child-bearing positive women, a whole range of allied services are being provided to women, she said. Post-delivery the women are linked to the nearest ART centres for follow up. There are 718 VCTC centres in Tamil Nadu; and the attendance of women is on the rise.

SHG movement

The SHG movement is being tapped to disseminate information on HIV, and increase acceptance of people living with HIV in society.

Making a presentation on the demands of positive women articulated during the conference, P. Kausalya of PWN+ said the involvement of women in the decision-making process was low. Issues such as lack of facilities for screening for cervical cancer, Nevirapine (drug) resistance, the increasing number of widows and orphaned children, and the possible livelihood opportunities for women living with HIV/AIDS were discussed threadbare, she said.

The gaps in the PPTCT programme should be identified and addressed; access should be provided for young girls for preventive methods; ensure shelter, legal and property rights to the women and access to treatment in all districts, Ms. Kausalya said. Representatives of the UNDP and UNIFEM were present during the meeting.