Understanding Your Context

Understanding Your Context

The first step in developing rights-based, gender-responsive programmes for AGYW is to conduct an assessment of the HIV epidemic and response, in order to understand the various factors that drive the epidemic amongst AGYW, the services currently available, the barriers to access to services and what is needed to expand the response.

Holding a Country Dialogue / Consultation

A critical first step to developing national plans, investment cases, Global Fund funding requests or other related national policies and strategies that respond to AGYW requires a country-led, evidence-based consultative dialogue and process to identify and understand the HIV epidemic amongst AGYW and the national response.

This helps to identify who has, and who is at risk of HIV, considering information on incidence, prevalence, mortality and the coverage, quality and uptake of prevention, treatment, care and support services, including for AGYW. It is equally important to consider structural barriers that impact on risk and vulnerability to HIV.

An open, multi-stakeholder, nationally owned and led country or national dialogue is a useful forum for identifying the factors that drive the HIV epidemic amongst AGYW. Ideally, a country / national dialogue should create an open and safe space to bring together a wide range of key stakeholders from government, the private sector, non-governmental and civil society organizations representing affected populations, faith-based organizations, academia and bilateral, multilateral and technical partners. It is a country-led process to facilitate frank dialogue about who has and is at risk of HIV, TB and/or malaria and how laws and human rights impact on the lives of affected populations.


As a follow up to the findings of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, UNDP has supported country stakeholders to conduct national dialogues on HIV, law, human rights and gender equality. The national dialogues help to identify human rights and gender equality issues, including for AGYW in all their diversity, the barriers they create for access to HIV-related health services, and programming accordingly.

The process of conducting a national dialogue is critical to a successful outcome – it promotes country-led, multistakeholder, rights-based responses to HIV. A consultative process that is country-led, ongoing and involves all key stakeholders, including AGYW helps to:

  • Ensure an evidence informed approach to HIV that takes into account human rights and gender equality barriers that impact on populations such as AGYW
  • Promote accountability and commitment to rights-based responses to HIV
  • Ensure the participation and voices of AGYW and other vulnerable and key populations in programming for law and policy review and reform, access to justice and strengthened law enforcement
  • Build the capacity of all key stakeholders to participate in interventions to strengthen legal and policy frameworks
  • Build consensus and promote national advocacy around common priorities, and
  • Lead to the development of national multi-sectoral action plans with integrated, institutionalised responses that work at various levels.

For more information on understanding and responding to law, human rights, gender equality and HIV, see UNDP’s Capacity Development Toolkit: Critical Enablers

Capacity Required

The organisation is able to understand and utilise Country Co-ordinating  Mechanisms (CCMs) to engage in country dialogue, funding requests and the design, delivery and monitoring of AGYW services

The organisation has the capacity to engage with a wide range of key stakeholders from government, the private sector, non-governmental and civil society organizations representing AGYW, to ensure a country-led, evidence-based consultative dialogue and process to identify and understand the HIV epidemic amongst AGYW.

AGYW have a right to participate meaningfully in these processes, to help identify factors that drive HIV acquisition and transmission and to shape the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the HIV response.

Global Fund’s HER Campaign: Her Voice
The Global Fund’s HER Campaign has created a fund, called Her Voice, which aims to address the logistical barriers faced by groups and networks of adolescent girls and young women, to better enable them to participate in Global Fund country processes. It provides practical support, such as small grants to cover expenses, to ensure women and girls have a place at the table during key decision making forums related to country policy reform, funding applications and the design and implementation of programmes for women and girls.

The participation of AGYW and the consultative gender assessment processes can take many forms, to ensure that AGYW, including young key populations, are able to make meaningful inputs. In the case of adolescents, this may require innovative approaches (e.g. use of technology-based approaches such as social media) to ensure their confidential, safe engagement.

Box 1: Participation of AGYW in the development, implementation and evaluation of programs

PACT and UNAIDS Youth Participation Tool shows how youth can be involved in Global Fund processes from start to finish. This tool can also be specifically adapted to AGYW.

Meaningful participation requires programmes to

  • Ensure AGYW are beneficiaries of programs to address their specific needs;
  • Engage AGYW as partners to collaborate on the design, implementation, M&E of programs, policies and interventions that affect them.
  • Support AGYW as leaders, to initiate and direct their own interventions.

AGWY-led and serving organisations should be supported to be representatives on Country Coordinating Mechanisms and to participate more broadly in Country Coordinating Mechanism processes, country dialogues and consultations, and the implementation and monitoring of programs. This may also require strengthening their capacity to participate in advocacy, decision-making and planning, implementing and monitoring programs.

PACT and UNAIDS Youth Participation Tool

Global Fund (2017) Adolescent Girls and Young Women in High-HIV Burden Settings: Technical Brief
Critical Enablers