The International Community of Women Living with HIV (ICW) was founded 25 years ago in July 1992. A group of 54 women living with HIV took to the stage during the opening of the 8th International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, determined that they – and the communities they represented – should never again be invisible, voiceless and ignored not at one of these conferences, or within the broader AIDS response. Coming from a two-day workshop where they had committed to ongoing dialogue and collective activism, the women read out 12 statements which they had drafted under the newly formed umbrella network - ICW. ICW has grown over the years, in spite of barriers in terms of geographic distance, language, and very limited resources.
A central International Support Office (ISO) based in London in the UK was initially tasked to coordinate the network, look for resources, and create policy documents and resources for the women to use. As the network grew and gathered more regional networks, a central governance body was established to guide and direct the advocacy priorities of the global work that ICW engages in: the International Steering Committee (ISC), which was composed of elected members from every ICW region. After five years in Buenos Aires in Argentina, the Central Office (now called the Global Office) was moved to Nairobi in Kenya in 2014. Our growing network has ensured that the issues of women living with HIV continue to be voiced, and women have a role in decision-making processes.
Today, ICW represents women living with HIV in all our diversity. We work in 120 countries and through 10 regional networks: Asia Pacific, Caribbean, Central Africa, East Africa, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), North America, Southern Africa, and West Africa. An exciting area of growth has been the emergence of the Chapter of Young Women, Adolescents and Girls (CYWAG), and an informal Indigenous ICW group (IICW).