"#WhatWomenWant: a resourced, inclusive, democratic and community-led platform where many can speak, amplify one another's voices, and translate this momentum into thought leadership, coordination, and accountability."

Launched in February 2016 by the ATHENA Network, the #WhatWomenWant advocacy campaign mobilises advocates and thought leaders across issues of gender equality, HIV, gender-based violence (GBV), women's rights, and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for women in all of their diversity, to expand who is in the conversation and who has access to it. Its in-person and social media outlets provide a space for young feminists to contribute to and influence global policy discourse on the HIV response. The campaign aims to amplify young feminist voices through various channels of participation and to strengthen and highlight feminist thought leadership in the HIV response, including a harmonised way to organise. The vision includes: collaboration and joint action by all to invest in women's HIV and SRHR, women as leaders who articulate the priorities of women and girls in all their diversity, and women speaking to the Political Declaration on AIDS and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework as a tool for civil society to meet their agenda to achieve gender equality in the HIV and SRHR response.

Communication Strategies: 

The campaign engages through an expanding network of primarily women-led organisations and individuals who are working to advance gender equality through a women's rights and health focus. #WhatWomenWant is premised on the conviction that there is a need for movement-building within and between movements of women and girls, young people, and key population networks, and for coordinated, nuanced advocacy and messages that speak to the intersectionality of issues and complexity of women's lives. The idea is that movement-building led by inclusive and diverse coalitions of women creates stronger responses. In particular, women's civil society - and the HIV movement it helped create - is seen as a vital partner in thought leadership, expanding the evidence base, tracking and ensuring the implementation of political commitments, reaching women in all of their diversity, deconstructing and applying a feminist analysis to women's realities, mentoring new leadership, and transforming gender norms.

To that end, the advocacy campaign engages women - including young women living with and affected by HIV, thought leaders, and high-level decision makers from around the world - through:

  • Community consultations (e.g., Link Up Project youth-led dialogues on SRHR and HIV integration, April to May 2017)
  • Young Women's Leadership Initiative up to and at the sixtieth session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW60), February to March 2017)
  • Young Women's Leadership Initiative and #WhatWomenWant campaign at the International AIDS Conference, July 2017)
  • #WhatWomenWant as part of the African Young Feminist Dialogues at the AWID International Forum, September 2017)
  • High-level panels (e.g., Civil Society Hearing for the High-Level Meeting (HLM) on AIDS, April 2017, and a #WhatWomenWant breakfast panel at the HLM at which community activists sat together as peers in conversation with institutional thought leaders and government delegates in a room filled with key influencers across gender equality, SRHR, and HIV)
  • Think tank meetings (e.g., Think Tank at Ford Foundation during the CSW60, March 2017)
  • A young feminist blog series, which spans 16 countries and territories and is authored by activists working across HIV, women's health, family planning, LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) issues, women's entrepreneurship, GBV, transgender rights, tracking of SDGs, law and policy, and academia
  • A large-scale social media campaign (e.g., various Twitter chats)
  • A photo campaign, in which women take photos holding a placard with hand-written messages communicating #WhatWomenWant
  • Advocacy tools such as infographics and various reports and resources on the #WhatWomenWant website

Regional representation and diversity is built from within existing forums and working groups.

Development Issues: 

Gender, HIV/AIDS, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Key Points: 

A six-month consultation in 2016 with adolescent women and young girls led to a framework outlining #WhatWomenWant. Click here to read #WhatWomenWant: A Transformative Framework for Women, Girls and Gender Equality in the Context of HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights [PDF], April 6 2017.

As explained there, gender equality is a top priority in the SDGs, with SDG 5 a standalone goal dedicated to gender equality. Areas in the 2030 Agenda where gender is explicitly mainstreamed include: SDG 3 (maternal and infant mortality, HIV, SRH); SDG 4 (eliminate gender disparities in education, create safe and gender-sensitive learning environments); SDG 6 (equitable sanitation with a specific attention to women and girls); SDG 10 (economic, social, and political inclusion); SDG 11 (safe transport, access to safe public spaces); SDG 16 (reduce all forms of violence, end abuse, trafficking and exploitation, ensure access to justice); and SDG 17 (disaggregated data collection). "This creates important new opportunities for advancing gender equality and women's and girls' empowerment, and forms a crucial part of the rapidly evolving global development architecture." Furthermore, the 2016 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS has a strong focus on women and girls and acknowledges the interconnectedness of HIV with gender inequality, the empowerment of women, achieving full SRHR, and ending GBV. The continued engagement with the gender dynamics of the global HIV epidemic and response as part of the CSW is also key, as it helps take HIV out of isolation and forge new partnerships and accountability mechanisms to reach 2030 targets.

#WhatWomenWant social media campaign reach as of April 2017:

  • Virtual reach of over 13 million accounts on Twitter
  • 120,000 engaged in five Twitter chats from May to July 2016
  • #WhatWomenWant hashtag used over 15,000 times since May 2016
  • Thousands of total participants in Twitter chats, photo, and video projects from across five regions and 40 countries
Partner Text: 

Funded by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and supported by over 25 additional partners who have built the movement, with many more engaging in virtual dialogue.

See video

Gender Equality And HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS website, and #WhatWomenWant website - all accessed on October 2 2017.