Gender Inequality

Around 4,900 young women become infected with HIV every week. That’s one new infection every two minutes. Women often face more significant barriers to sexual health care than men, leaving them at a greater risk of contracting HIV. 

The Equality Gap

Gender inequality makes it harder for women to receive proper sexual education and health care or negotiate condom use with a sexual partner. This is one reason why women and girls make up more than half of all people currently living with HIV.

What You Can Do:

Stand up for gender equality. At home, at school, and in the world at large.


Gender Inequality

What is gender inequality? Gender inequality is the uneven distribution of power, money, and personal agency between genders. This limits women’s ability to access sexual health services and protect themselves from HIV transmission.

What are “gender norms”? Gender norms are cultural and institutional expectations for how individuals should behave based on their gender. They describe attributes, roles, activities, and responsibilities connected to being male or female. Gender norms are continuously enforced and established in everyday interactions, but they can also be negotiated, resisted, and redefined.

Where are unequal gender norms, and what impact do they have? Unequal gender norms tend to be more prevalent in low-income societies and often lead to higher-risk sexual behavior. Adolescents are particularly impacted. Gender-based violence can reduce women’s access to health care, lower their quality of care, and make them more vulnerable to some diseases. 

HIV is the main cause of death for women of fertile age living in sub-Saharan Africa. Women here may face restricted mobility or lack the knowledge they need to seek treatment actively. Those living with HIV fear stigmatization and gender-based violence.

Does better gender equality improve sexual health? Evidence shows that more egalitarian gender norms (better gender equality) are related to positive sexual health outcomes such as the use of contraceptives, positive sexual experiences, and open communication about sex between partners and couples.