Women leaders have said resources allocated to fighting HIV/Aids among women should reflect the fact that they constitute more than half of all people living with HIV/Aids.
Half the continuum of care should be allocated to women, they said.
Graca Machel, patron of the Leadership Programme in South Africa, said world leaders should fulfill the commitments that they have made to women.
Leaders cannot continue making commitments then go home and forget about them. In the Abuja declaration, for example, leaders promised to spend 15 per cent of their national health budget on women's health. How many have met this commitment? she asked.
The 2004 Report on the Global Aids Epidemic shows that more than half of those infected in the continent were and young girls below 24 years.
Machel said it was evident that strategies of prevention focusing on young women and girls were not working.
We are focusing on girls and not boys and men who control them. While urging girls to be confident and to make informed decisions we should also change the mindset of the boys and all the parents.
It is too much to put the responsibility on girls and women alone, she said.
Ms Noeleen Heyzer, the Executive Director of the United Nations Fund for Women (Unifem), said although many governments had national policies addressing women's health, few of them were implemented.
The trend around the world is that cutbacks are being made on programmes that address women's health, she said.
She said a good place to start adressing the inequality is the development and access of protection measures that she can control controlled by women like female condoms and microbicides.
Women must have access to the practical options that can protect them from HIV including microbicides, Koffi Annan, the United Nations General Secretary said.
He also called for the education of girls and for them to be allowed to pursue careers.
Musimbi Kanyoro, the Executive Director of the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA), said women leaders should break the silence on sexuality. Do not wait. Organise, organise, organise. We are told that we are important. Where is the money that goes with this, she asked.
Save the Children said the women should be given a priority over men in the issuance of
Women should have the priority because they are the main care givers in the African setting, she said.
For Marina Mahathir, a young women's leader from Malaysia, the first step is the recognition that women even exist. Women need space to express themselves and say how they feel. It is no longer acceptable to say that good girls don't talk, Marina said.
Alice Welbourn, the chair of the International Community of People Living with Aids, expressed her displeasure that many of the women forums were taking place parallel to some of the main meeting.
Our issues cannot continue to be dealt with in parallel tracts, she said. Machel noted that the same disregard was being shown to women at the national, regional and international levels.
Mary Robibnson, the head of the Ethical Globalisation Initiative said that women from all over the world must come together to forge strategic partnerships.
And women leaders are not waiting for the situation to change by itself and they have pledged that when they returned home from the 15th International Aids Conference in Bangkok they would recognize, organize and network with each other. (Source: The East African Standard, 14 July, 2004)