The Global Fund has just released a report on a rapid review of its implementation framework on gender equality and key populations. Commissioned by the Community, Rights and Gender department, the review looked into the “results, gaps, and lessons” from the implementation of the Gender Equality Action Plan 2014-2016 and the Key Populations Action Plan 2014-2017, which have built on the ‘strategic commitments’ made by the Global Fund through the 2008 Gender Equality Strategy and the 2009 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities (SOGI) Strategy. The review sought to assess the implementation of the strategies and action plans on gender equality, human rights, and key populations and to provide recommendations to the Global Fund secretariat.
The report presents key insights that are useful for gender equality, human rights, and key population advocacies in the context of country programmes on HIV, TB, and malaria and within the Global Fund secretariat. These include the following:
- The strategies and plans are robust and they present a strong case why investment is necessary and urgent for these areas. However, visibility and ownership of these two areas remain uneven within the Global Fund, and they require formal monitoring. A stronger ‘profile, ownership, and accountability’ of these plans will guarantee that thematic strategies are “‘live’ documents” are not theoretical ones. Conceptual clarity on the definitions of “gender” and “key populations,” especially in the context of TB and malaria, and how they relate to each other, is also needed. With changes in the Funding Model and with the new global development goals, the plans also need to be adjusted.
- The implementation of these strategies and plans have contributed to significant progress in the areas of policies, processes, tools and good practice, strategic information, capacity and expertise, and leadership. This is reflected, for example, in the changes in the eligibility and minimum requirements for CCMs; the funding model’s institutionalisation participation of key populations; the development of tools, from the modular template and gender assessment tools to various information notes; and different capacity-building initiatives on gender and key populations. All of these provide the ‘building blocks’ to give momentum to the scaling up of interventions and investment on gender and key populations.
- The above developments are hindered by the lack of national ownership and limited investment and scale-up in human rights and programmatic interventions for gender equality and human rights. These are influenced by the lack of strategic information; the quality and extent of engagement with key populations, especially as funding applications move to grant making and grant implementation; how key population and gender-related issues are translated into funded and operationalised interventions; funding for the right interventions; gaps in the participation and involvement of key populations in the latter stages of the funding model; supporting most neglected communities, as well as civil society capacity and funding; engaging key populations in the context of transition and sustainability; and focusing investments to address major obstacles.
- Progress in the areas of gender equality and key populations is driven by evidence, civil society activism, and good practice standards in HIV, and while there is momentum to address gender and key populations in tuberculosis, malaria is lagging behind.
- Growth has been noted in the strategic commitment and capacity of the Global Fund Secretariat in the context of gender equality and key populations, but this is uneven and dependent of the CRG department. These two areas need to be institutionalised, and capacity needs to be strengthened especially in the Grant Management division.
- Strengthening strategic partnerships between the Global Fund and civil society and technical partners will contribute to the success of the Global Fund’s interventions on gender equality and key populations. Some of these partnerships, however, require “greater focus and transparent accountability framework” to yield greater impact.
- The new Global Fund Strategy 2017-2022 presents “unprecedented opportunities” for gender equality and key populations, but this will depend on the integration of gender equality and key populations in operation plans; addressing gaps and weaknesses that have already been identified; ensuring that key policies, especially on transition and sustainability, yield positive results; and driving “collaborative action” within the Global Fund.
Recommendations: pushing the envelope for gender equality, human rights, and key populations
Looking at the successes and lessons from the implementation of the gender equality and key populations strategies and action plans, the report lays down recommendations that aim to strengthen the institution’s commitment for gender equality, human rights, and key populations.
- The Global Fund and its stakeholders should continue to be an “unequivocal champion” of gender equality and key populations, as outlined by its Strategic Plan for 2017-2022, and should play “a leading and catalysing role” in the global health and development arena.
- Gender equality and key populations should be integrated all through-out in the operational plans for the new strategy, with pull-out and distinct plans for each of these areas for 2017-2022, and a clear accountability framework.
- The Secretariat should address identified gaps in gender equality and key populations, and find means to incentivize improvements. Improvements priorities should address gaps in strategic information; in key population engagements across the stages of the funding model; in translating issues into funded programmatic interventions; in programmes for neglected communities; funding for communities; and in the inclusion of key populations in transitioning countries.
- Gender equality and key population capacity within the Global Fund should be enhanced, especially in the Grant Management division. Support for civil society capacity should also be improved by extending the CRG initiative and consolidating effective training programmes.
- The Global Fund should improve the “focus and accountability of its strategic partnerships.” With technical partners, this entails, among others, having well-defined common goals, having transparent accountability frameworks, and developing shared conceptual clarity. With civil society partners, this means ensuring meaningful engagement in Global Fund processes in all levels, maximising good practices and tools, and developing critical policies.
As the Global Fund embarks on a new strategy for 2017-2022, these recommendations will contribute in expanding the space to advocate for gender equality, human rights, and key populations in country responses to address HIV, TB, and malaria.
Read more about the Global Fund Community, Rights, and Gender Special Initiative, or check out additional resources from Women4GF on The Global Fund and its Gender Equality strategy.
Why this report is important
The report assesses The Global Fund’s strategies and action plans for gender equality and key populations. It presents key insights on the implementation of these strategies and action plans and provides recommendations. This report can help enrich and operationalise the ‘unprecedented opportunities’ for gender equality, human rights, and key populations underlined in the new Global Fund Strategy 2017-2022.
How you can use the report
Civil society organisations, community groups, and key population networks can use the report as an advocacy tool in their engagements in Global Fund processes, in particular during different stages in the funding model. This can also guide advocacies for the promotion of gender equality, human rights, and key populations in national disease programmes.