The Women Now Summit (WN2016) was the first Pan African Women’s Summit on Sexual and Reproductive Justice (SRJ) and HIV. The need for the Summit was conceptualised by a network of Black women and allies working across the HIV and SRHR response in Africa, Europe, and North America to consider the institutional and social drivers that destabilize Black women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health (SRH).
The convenors expertly mobilised a network of leading women across the spectrum of the HIV response that resulted in more than 200 delegates from eighteen countries coming together in Durban, South Africa. More than 100 scholarships were awarded to young women who were actively engaged in the programme design and facilitation.
The programme consisted of a diversity of themes and session formats – including technical updates on biomedical and social change programmes, small group workshops; performance art; a dedicated learning centre; opportunities for skills building, and self-care. Significantly, the space afforded women of different age groups, cultures, and geospatial contexts the opportunity to come together and discuss issues of sexual health and wellbeing as women. All plenary sessions were led and conceptualized by women.
The summit drew together a broad diversity of clinical, social and behavioural scientists; advocates and activists; donors; journalists; policymakers; artists; faith leaders; and business leaders who were concerned about women’s health, development, and human rights to engage with the agenda of the International AIDS Conference (AIDS2016), and to exchange new information emerging from research on women’s and girls’ vulnerability to HIV. WomenNOW! encourages new thinking and cross-disciplinary partnerships for future work.