Rebecca Tiessen


Numerous efforts are in place in Malawi to address the high rates of HIV/AIDS in the country. Furthermore, several successes in HIV/AIDS prevention and mitigation (including free anti-retroviral drugs to people living with AIDS) have been documented. Fewer successes, however, have been achieved in integrating gender issues into HIV/AIDS programs. In this article I begin by defining gender mainstreaming and why it is central to HIV/AIDS programming. The second objective of this paper is to summarize the existing initiatives to mainstream gender in HIV/AIDS programs. The final objective is to uncover the ongoing needs, gaps and challenges for gender mainstreaming in HIV/AIDS programs. One of the biggest hurdles in HIV/AIDS prevention and mitigation remains the attitudes and cultural norms which reinforce women’s disadvantaged position. Efforts to mainstream gender into HIV/AIDS programs are inadequate because they address women’s practical needs rather than their strategic interests. Thus, current gender mainstreaming strategies are limited by the superficiality of the approaches for addressing gender inequality and HIV/AIDS, underscoring the need for transformative planning.

Author Biography

Rebecca Tiessen, Assistant Professor in International Development Studies and Director for the Centre for African Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She received her PhD from the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. She has carried out field research in Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Kenya. Her research areas include gender mainstreaming, gender inequality, HIV/AIDS and human security, Canadian foreign aid, NGO-donor relations, and global citizenship.