The International Community of Women Living with HIV Asia Pacific (ICWAP) is the regional network run by and for women living with HIV (WLHIV) in Asia and the Pacific in all our diversity. We are open to all networks of WLHIV and all individual self-identifying WLHIV across the Asia Pacific Region. We are inclusive in our feminism and our membership embraces younger women, transgender women, women who use drugs, sex workers, women with disabilities and other marginalized populations of women. Our unique network, the only one of its kind, is a part of the broader movement of WLHIV globally.
Our network engages members and networks in 17 countries across the Asia-Pacific Region: Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Timor, Thailand, Viet Nam and New Zealand.
We aim to work closely with our members and sister country networks of WLHIV and key populations to raise awareness of the issues impacting our lives across the Asia Pacific region and at the global level. We seek to facilitate information sharing, and support each other’s work, and provide a unique convening point to advance shared advocacy agendas.
A message to our Sisters, Allies & Partners
I am excited to join the board of ICW Asia Pacific and more so to have been elected to serve as the new Chairperson.
In this role I will have the honor of working with the rest of ICWAP Board, our small but very dedicated staff, as well as our sister networks, partners and members across the region to implement this strong and well-crafted strategic plan.
I believe that the activities and goals we have set out in this plan will support our regional network to grow and strengthen in the upcoming years as we work together to improve the lives of women living with HIV.
ICWAP is a women-led, feminist organization, and as sisters we have overcome so many hurdles to stand together as a regional platform to lift up the voices of women living with HIV, support our advocacy for our needs and rights, and to work collaboratively to create a world where we can all live with poise and pride. Our work together has never been more relevant or needed.
I look forward to working with you to build a strong regional network and realize our vision of a world where all women living with HIV live their lives free of gender oppression, realizing and claiming our full rights inclusive of sexual, reproductive, legal economic and health rights.
I am so pleased to share this strategic plan, which serves as important guidance for the work of ICW Asia Pacific and a framework to move forward for our regional network. As a women-led organization, we have struggled for equality in every sector from having a meaningful seat at decision-making tables to having our issues prioritized, and especially with regards to resource allocation. ICW AP and our sister networks across the region are not equally funded, we are not given space and women and younger women advocates and human rights defenders are threatened just because they wanted to claim their rights to be treated equally as other human beings. The patriarchal society and context in which we work and live always limits our potential with a soft and very kind word but often fails to act to prioritize our needs, to support our work and to ensure our success.
After working with ICWAP for more than 5 years, and before that being an activist for 16 years in Nepal, I know that there are so many unmet and undiscussed needs and critical issues faced by adolescents, women and girls living with HIV or affected by HIV in all their diversity. I also know there are many well-documented concerns and needs which are simply not prioritized and not addressed by any intervention. I have grown angry hearing from my sisters working in countries across the region, that they were forced to shut down their essential women-led organizations with long histories of working in the HIV response due to lack of support. I share the concern of these women about issues of network sustainability and impact. The loss of these networks turns down the volume on our demands for eliminates critical supports for women, and creates vulnerabilities within the HIV response which will undermine our collective goals.
Therefore, this strategy reflects the discussions in regional meeting with sister networks that ICWAP must continue and expand our focus on movement building and interregional solidarity, strengthen support for the work of our sisters and sister networks, and advance our shared advocacy. This mandate encourages us to focus on the important priorities to uplift the rights and needs of women living with HIV with dignity.
We have persisted through so many struggles and storms to stand as regional network today but I am very optimistic that the perception towards women living with HIV and train will change soon with our collective efforts and with the power of inspiration from our leaders who fought very hard. We have much more work to do to make ICWAP a strong and autonomous regional network and this strategic plan outlines our strategy to demand what women living with HIV really want and need in the region.