ICW Latina News

Patricia Perez, vicepresident of the Coalition of First Ladies

The Latin American Coalition of First Ladies and Women Leaders celebrated, in Mexico prior to the XVII International AIDS Conference, its fifth meeting since its creation in 2006, under the slogan ‘Preventing the feminisation of the epidemic’. Participating in the meeting were the president of the coalition Xiomara Castro de Zelaya from Honduras, Margarita Zavala from Mexico, Lina Moreno de Uribe from Colombia and Surinam and Anita Maria Venetiaan-Vanenburg, together with 307 government leaders, UN officials from 22 countries in the region, and the national representatives of ICW Latina.

The Coalition released an eleven point document among those present who are committed to creating in society a culture of non-violence against women in a human rights framework, ratifying ICW’s campaign ‘More Peace, Less AIDS’ to reduce the impact that HIV / AIDS has on women. Also seeking to promote the participation of women, girls and adolescents living with HIV / AIDS, with a focus on women who are members of ICW Latina, and in line with the principle of MIPA (Meaningful Involvement of People living with HIV / AIDS).

The Coalition invited as guest of the Global Fund.

The president and vice president of the Latinamerican Coalition of First Ladies and Women Leaders on Women and AIDS, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, Honduran First Lady, and Patricia Perez, LAC regional secretary of ICW Latina, sat on the panel organised by the authorities of the Global Fund in the setting of the XVII International AIDS Conference – Mexico 2008 – coordinated by Lelio Marmora, Global Fund representative for the LAC region.

Michel Kazatchkine, official of the international organisation, demonstrated his approval of exchanges between the social protagonists from different places who make up the Coalition and exhorted that Castro de Zelaya and Perez collaborate with the Fund to ‘build in a more effective and efficient way for the achievement of their objectives’.

Patricia Perez expressed the hope that the well-known changes to the features the Global Fund uses in presenting financial proposals, are to be the start of more efficient work, which enables an improvement in the international social response to the AIDS epidemic, which is urgent and becoming indispensable in the seriousness of the pandemic.

Peace Campaign.

Bev Greet and Patricia Pérez, members of ICW’s Internacional Steering Committee, introduced the campaign ‘More Peace, Less AIDS’ in a press conference in Mexico. The initiative promotes peace in homes and between peoples as an instrument for fighting against AIDS.

(Elena Reynaga, the first open sex worker in these conferences, led another plenary)

“The Peace Campaign aims to get the topic onto governments’ political agendas. If we had a president who was to speak about AIDS, it would be much easier for a financial minister to put resources into this area. And if we manage to get people, not only from the health sector, talking about using condoms, it will be even easier” said Perez.

All women, all rights

It was the slogan of the Women’s Network Zone, an initiative shared and coordinated by ICW Latina, ICW global, Mexicanas Positivas, Athena Network, Colectivo Sol, Balance PDJ, Mexicanas Positivas and Alianza JG , which called on thousands of women from the across the five continents to meet at the booth in the Global Village of the XVII Internacional AIDS conference. The women there shared their experiences and fears, exchanged strategies and produced actions for the visibility of the different issues that concern them. At the closing, they mobilised a mass demonstration to the Zocalo. Men, boys, girls and adolescents from around the world, of different social classes, religious and political beliefs and artists.

Annie Lennox from Scotland and Eugenia León from Mexico, marched to the stage put up in Zocalo Square and made their voices heard. Arely Cano, of ICW Nicaragua, stood out as a speaker. Issues, such as sexual and reproductive health, the right to friendly and dignified health services, the use of female condoms, the work of the mass media, advocacy skills-building, the dramatic problems of migrants, drug users, women in prison, sex workers and unionized workers; the difficulties of indigenous women, prevention strategies, were some of the core issues of the womens’ work. “We can go back to our countries – says the women’s document – with the certainty of having improved our unity and we can tell our loved ones and our governments that we have made a step towards the consolidation of the International Women’s Movement”.

Women and girls for life in the LUNARIO of the National Auditorium in Mexico City.

The books ‘And I didn’t even cry’ and ‘Code for Life; history of women united against AIDS’, and the CD ‘Women for life’ were launched in the LUNARIO of the Mexican National Auditorium in the presence of Teresa Rodriguez, regional director of UNIFEM, Vivian Lopez, UNICEF representative, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, first lady of Honduras, Patricia Perez, Marina Soto and Arely Cano, members of the regional secretariat of ICW Latina, and Mario Bronfman of the Ford Foundation.

‘Code for Life’ brings together testimonies, experiences and the thoughts of Latinamerican women together with many others from Africa, Europe, Asia and Oceania, and in turn aims to be a political tool, because the AIDS problem is political, points out the text produced by ICW.

The Honduran girl and member of ICW, Keren, whose testimony to life is included in ‘And I didn’t even cry’, was at the presentation and gave her thanks to ICW Latina for being with her since she was 9 years old and to the First Lady of Honduras for her support.

The singer Ricardo Montaner, UNICEF’s goodwill ambassador, sent a message of support to ICW, and at the close of the event those present, holding hands, listened to the song ‘Women for life’, ICW Latina’s anthem, played by Giannina Giunta, Daniela Mercury, Adrián Goizueta and Adrián Barilari.