Hers is another of those faces I can’t forget. A woman, in her late 20s, somewhat educated, an HIV/AIDS patient. A disease she contracted because of her husband’s promiscuity. He died of the illness. She was thrown out of her marital home and disinherited by her inlaws. Left to make her own way with her little girl. The child, also a victim of the disease, contracted at birth. But did this woman give up? No. She found help. She made sure that she and her daughter got their medication. How did I meet her? She was a resource person for an HIV/AIDS call centre. Working for women with HIV/AIDS, spreading awareness, empowering other women with her example!
She was a woman to be admired, no doubt. But why did she have to go through so much? Because she was a woman!
Gender Inequality and HIV/AIDS is a subject that needs attention because every minute a young woman is newly infected with HIV.
Some of the aspects of gender inequality and HIV/AIDS are:
- Women are not allowed to voice their opinions with regard to practising safe sex.
- Violence against women increases their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.
- Lack of education and economic independence makes them opt for survival strategies that increase their chances of contracting the disease.
- Women and children in emergency situations – war, famine, floods – lead to transactional sex and thus increase their vulnerability.
- Lack of access to information, medical services in many countries.
- Gender norms about masculinity. For example, homophobia which stigmatizes men having sex with men, and therefore putting their wives/female partners at risk.
Today, is National Women and Girl’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the US. One organization that is doing great work in this area is The Red Pump Project®. This is a nonprofit organization raising awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls. The idea is to empower, educate, and motivate action by boldly driving conversation online and offline around HIV prevention and issues related to sexual and reproductive health. The Red Pump serves as a symbol of empowerment representing the strength and courage of women affected by HIV/AIDS.
Here’s how you can get involved in this project –
Buy a t-shirt.
Let’s #rocktheredpump today!