UNAIDS VietNam Speech at Organising Meeting of National Network of WLHIV, 28 August 2009

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, colleagues and friends.

I would like, first and foremost, to express my appreciation for the work done by so many compassionate and forward-thinking women and men – some of whom are here today – to envision and lay the groundwork for Viet Nam’s national network of women living with HIV. 

UNAIDS stands firmly behind this effort. Our own Outcome Framework at the global level makes stopping violence against women and girls a priority. Here in Viet Nam, we advocate for gender and HIV – particularly intimate partner violence and universal access for all women, including women living with HIV and sex workers – to be mainstreamed into the National Strategy for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, the National Strategy for Gender Equality and the National Strategy on Reproductive Health and Population Development. With the network’s foundation in place, the question that this workshop now raises is: where to go from here. 

As with any construction, the first step is to outline the form and decide – clearly and concretely, in measurable terms and with realistic and timebound targets – what we want to accomplish. What the finished product will be. 

Before we start building, we need a vision.

I have every confidence that you can work together to come to a common understanding and a shared vision. The chance to speak with one, joint, national voice is perhaps the greatest strength that this network can lay claim to. 

I would like to suggest you coordinate with partners as much as possible. The Women’s Union and civil society and government organisations can be of enormous assistance, as can VNP+ (the Viet Nam National Network of People Living with HIV). In addition to organisations involved in HIV, seek partnerships with those groups working against gender-based violence, trafficking and sexual exploitation. Don’t limit yourselves to the health sector. Remember that in responding to HIV, we have a unique opportunity to respond to all kinds of violence, inequality and rights violations.

In closing, I would like to emphasize that all the tools you could want are at hand. The question before you now is how to make best use of them. Please be assured that UNAIDS is ready and willing to support you in whatever way possible. We look forward to working with you in the future. 

Best wishes for a successful workshop. Thank you for your kind attention. Chuc suc khoe.

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