The United Nations agency tasked with advancing gender equality has teamed up with other partners in the Organization to ensure greater access to HIV services for women and girls as part of the wider response to the AIDS epidemic.
The UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) on Tuesday became the 11th member of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), a partnership that focuses on achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.
"UN Women is proud to join UNAIDS. We believe that the single most important strategy in dealing with HIV is empowering women and guaranteeing their rights - so that they can protect themselves from infection, overcome stigma, and gain greater access to treatment and care," said the Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet.
In 2010, there were around 17 million women living with HIV, and HIV continues to be the leading cause of death in women of reproductive age, according to a joint news release issued by UN Women and UNAIDS.
Persistent gender inequalities and women's rights violations are continuing to render women and girls more vulnerable to HIV and prevent them from accessing HIV services, the two agencies stated.
"I believe we need to and can do much better for women and girls. There are still too few sustainable solutions available for women to protect themselves from HIV, violence and poverty," said the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe'.
"Partnering with UN Women will strengthen our efforts to promote gender equality and bolster women's empowerment globally through the HIV response," he added.
UNAIDS and UN Women will work together in a number of areas, including addressing the links between HIV and violence against women, and integrating gender equality into national HIV planning.
Established by the UN General Assembly in 2010, UN Women brings together four distinct parts of the UN system which focused exclusively on gender equality and women's empowerment.