YOUNG FEMINISTS BLOG SERIES ON #WhatWomenWant

Meet young feminist Marisol Ruiz Celorio from Mexico.

1. What do you see as the current gaps in the HIV response for women and girls and what are key barriers and enablers to accessing HIV/SRHR services? 

The HIV response needs to reach a wider number of women and girls and increase access to both HIV and SRH services as well as optimize existing healthcare infrastructure in settings where resources are scarce; above all, I believe it is fundamental to work on the reduction of stigma surrounding HIV and increase the availability and accessibility of comprehensive SRH services for women and girls living with HIV that are youth friendly, confidential and free of stigma. 

2. What effective strategies have worked in your community to prevent and address GBV in all its forms & what laws do you think need to be strengthened or repealed to help prevent and address GBV; and to protect the rights of women and girls in all of our diversity?  

In Mexico more than 900,000 women and girls have been killed violently from 2010 to 2016. This places my country, along with 9 other Latin American countries, among the 25 countries with the highest rate of femicides. We have had several campaigns launched by the federal government addressing gender based violence that provide hotlines with medical and psychological help but ultimately, I do believe that the only way to tackle GBV is to address gender stereotypes and challenge gender roles, which is the only real way to tackle the machismo culture that permeates this country and enables men to feel that they "own" women, and women's bodies.

3. How can young women be supported to break structural barriers that hinder the progress towards gender equality?

I believe that young women can be supported by allowing them to participate in spaces that are traditionally dominated by older men, and older women. If we get our message out to a wider audience we can probably start making progress towards gender equality, we also need to work with our governments to try to influence the education system in our country and teach kids of all ages about gender equality and challenging gender stereotypes within the educational curricula.

4. Why do we need a feminist HIV Response?

I believe that all responses related to public health issues should implement from an intersectional feminist approach. When talking about an HIV response this is particularly important because we need to place at the front and center the rights of those living with HIV, specially their right to pleasure, to stigma-free services and to user friendly information. The feminist HIV response would also recognize that women experience oppression in varying configurations and in varying degrees of intensity, and that race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity are all elements that impact the ways in which individuals living with HIV have to deal with and navigate through their HIV status.

5. The world will meet in June at the High Level Meeting on AIDS 2016, what is one of things you would like to see come out of this meeting, especially that it happens after adoption of SDGs?

I would like to see a real commitment from the governments in response to the goal that they've set on eliminating stigma and discrimination, eliminating gender inequality and the increase of access to treatment without any kind of discrimination. More importantly I would like governments to address the goals that they have set with a sex-positive approach, recognizing that individuals living with HIV have the right to a pleasurable and healthy sex life. The recognition of sexual rights within the context of the SDGs in this High Level meeting should be one of the main outcomes.