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16 days of activism: Women organizing for rights, resources, safety 

It is DAY 6 of the annual international campaign, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence Campaign! Today we feature the story of HIV-positive women boldly organizing for equal treatment and healthcare for themselves and everyone living with HIV in Malawi. Their campaign, Our Bodies, Our Lives (OBOL), took shape because of JASS’ ongoing feminist movement building process and accompaniment with our allies – progressive faith-based network, the Malawi Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Personally Affected by HIV and AIDS, and the Coalition of Malawian Women Living with HIV/AIDS. This grassroots campaign, now 6500-strong and in every district, has placed HIV-positive women in the leadership of transformative health solutions for everyone. They have upended stigma, lifted taboos about sex and sexuality, and reversed discriminatory treatment policies at the national level. Today the women of OBOL continue to be an unstoppable citizen force taking on other issues such as land inheritance, LGBT rights and fair treatment of sex workers. Their achievements include:

  • Quality and accessible medicines: gained the elimination of sub-standard drugs that caused painful side effects and physical deformities
  • A seat at the table: built their organized clout to bring the voice and perspectives of HIV-positive women to bear on decisions that impact their health and wellbeing
  • Moving beyond drugs: created a treatment literacy effort throughout Malawi to ensure that all women (and men) understand how to stay healthy living with HIV, and feel entitled to respect and dignity
  • Demanding accountability: sustained ongoing pressure on local government and clinics to continue to deliver on their commitments

To learn more about this extradionary story, see these resources:

Follow us for rest of the #16 DaysofActivism campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as we feature more stories like this from our many networks that demonstrate the multi-faceted nature of organizing for change. You will learn not only about what women are confronting in their hostile contexts, but also how they are courageously responding with strategies that are creative, take safety and risk into account and offer alternative solutions that support entire communities.


Caution Women Crossing the Line

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