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Our History, Governance & Structure

The International Community of Women living with HIV/AIDS (ICW) is the only international network run for and by HIV positive women. It was founded in response to the desperate lack of support, information and services available to positive women worldwide and their need for influence and input on policy development. ICW promotes all our voices and advocates for changes that improve our lives.

Our History

ICW was formed by a group of HIV positive women from many different countries attending the 8th International Conference on AIDS held in Amsterdam in July 1992. HIV positive women shared stories and strategies for coping and devised action plans for the future. An important achievement at this first ICW pre-conference was drawing up the “Twelve Statements“. These statements relate to the issues and needs facing all women living with HIV worldwide and form the basis of our organisation’s philosophy. During this meeting, the women agreed that they did not want to lose this momentum and ICW was created.

In 2003 the first International Strategic Plan (ISP) gave priority for the network to better serve its grassroots membership and put in action the principle of meaningful involvement. Since the majority of our members are based in Southern and East Africa, this led to the formation of ICW Southern Africa in 2004 and ICW Eastern Africa in 2005.

ICW Eastern Africa has since then established its governance structure in 2007, developed the first Regional Strategic Plan and confirmed its registration in Uganda in 2008. The Constitution was written in 2009. The same year ICW Eastern Africa was granted autonomy. The regional network operates in the five countries of the Eastern African Community, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda as well as Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan.

Advocacy and capacity-building are key priorities of our 5-year Regional Strategic Plan 2008-2012: with policy-makers (Parliamentarians for Women’s Health Project 2005-2007), health care providers (WHO Treatment Mapping 2005) and in securing sustainable funding as a family of networks (Women & Families Project 2005-2010, Donor Forum 2009).

Our expertise is in researching our own issues to build a body of evidence. This supports our monitoring of political commitments & structures impacting on the lives of women living with HIV at all levels. It enables us to propose alternatives based on our analysis of current policies (Positive Women Monitoring Change: Criminalisation of HIV Transmission 07-09). This enables us to develop advocates among women living with HIV as change agents & experts in sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender issues (Listen to us! 2010) as well as issues of participation in relation to access to care, treatment and support (UNGASS 2008), violence against women (Listen to us! 2010), TB/HIV co-infection (TB/HIV Community Based Advocacy Model 07-10, UNGASS Shadow Report 2010).

Our Governance & Structure

ICW Eastern Africa is a regional autonomous network registered since 2008 part of a global network, ICW Global (www.icwglobal.org). ICW Global is currently composed of 4 regional networks: ICW Eastern Africa covering the East Africa Community (based in Uganda), ICW Southern Africa covering the SADC region (based in Swaziland), ICW Asia Pacific covering the whole of Asia Pacific (based in India), ICW Latina covering Latin America, hosts the global platform of the network since 2009 in Argentina. The global platform is to rotate every 5 years to other regional networks.

ICW Eastern Africa’s governance is composed of 4 National Boards in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda, as well as a Regional Board with formalised communication, accountability and decision-making channels covering 5 countries for now: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. ICW Eastern Africa developed a 5-year regional strategic plan starting in 2008 and ending in 2012. The Chair of ICW Eastern Africa regional board sits on ICW Global International Steering Committee (ISC). The Regional Board developed the Regional Strategic Plan 2008-2012 and reviewed ICW Eastern Africa’s Constitution with changes in board members’ terms to ensure more meaningful involvement of young women living with HIV.

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