Journal Article

Strengthening the enabling environment for women and girls: What is the evidence in social and structural approaches in the HIV response?

There is growing interest in expanding public health approaches that address social and structural drivers that affect the environment in which behaviour occurs. Half of those living with HIV infection are women. The sociocultural and political environment in which women live can enable or inhibit their ability to protect themselves from acquiring HIV. This paper examines the evidence related to six key social and structural drivers of HIV for women: transforming gender norms; addressing violence against women; transforming legal norms to empower women; promoting women's employment, income and livelihood opportunities; advancing education for girls and reducing stigma and discrimination. The paper reviews the evidence for successful and promising social and structural interventions related to each driver. This analysis contains peer-reviewed published research and study reports with clear and transparent data on the effectiveness of interventions. Structural interventions to address these key social and structural drivers have led to increasing HIV-protective behaviours, creating more gender-equitable relationships and decreasing violence, improving services for women, increasing widows' ability to cope with HIV and reducing behaviour that increases HIV risk, particularly among young people.