by Patience Mandishona on August 6, 2008 at 11:45 am

Patience Mandishona speaking at 2008 AIDS ConferenceTuesday at the IAC was an action packed day for me. I got to speak in front of a lot of people which was a new experience for me and it definitely made me feel more empowered. Before I got on stage I was telling myself that I cant do this, but at the same time I told myself this is the an opportunity for me to tell my story. Having the women from Jass there helped me a lot because they encouraged me and told me I could do it. As I sat on the panel I scribbled a lot of things I would want to say but when I was eventually introduced and had to speak I totally forgot it all and just spoke from my heart. Issues of violence affect me deeply as I have also had personal experiences of violence and its also common in the environment I currently live in. After I was done and the comments were now being made, I felt great about myself and that there were people who were in solidarity with me and the work I do.

I appreciate being a part of the Jass process as it has given me the opportunity to share with a lot of great women issues that affect all of us. After the session I met up with so many different people who are currently working on such issues. I was then invited to speak at another meeting talking about the invisibility of WSW within the HIV/AIDS movement and the women's movement in general. It was a great place for me to share with others around the world on this issues and it was more relaxing now because it was not in front of such a big crowd so I was not as nervous as I was the first time. After that talk I then rushed over to the Cross Regional Dialogue. This was also an eye opening event for me as I got to listen to women's different experiences in Mexico, Spain and Africa. You get to realize that the group was so dynamic and the experiences shared are so different. As I listened to some of the women talking about legalizing abortion, I looked at the context where I was coming from and realized that we still have a long way to go as issues the legality of abortion were not even on our agendas yet. This was a great learning experience foe me especially talking about the strategies they used and appreciated the work that they were doing currently.

As we go into our final days in Mexico I am looking forward to being a part of a larger process especially having met other women from a different part of the world. I hope that the process will continue and we will share with each other regularly on the work we are doing and we would like to do collectively as Jass. By the way I am Patience Mandishona from GALZ.My final words are lets Keep Crossing the Line....

Attending 2008 AIDS Conference

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by Sindi Blose on August 3, 2008 at 11:53 pm

 I'm sharing this space with my friend and sister activist, Sindi Blose, from Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa. She won't mention the fact that she did an extraordinary job of rocking the Global Village this afternoon with the rest of our women crossing the line. The songs and dancing drew dozens of men and women to our cramped site with huge enthusiasm and nothing but joy and appreciation for the power of their very personal stories of struggle.

Hi everybody, I'm Sindi in Mexico having the time of my life so far. Today I attended the session on women and girls with a speech by Stephen Lewis. I was happy to finally be in the same room with him. We need many male leadership in Africa to view women as he does the world would be such a safer space for women to realize their full potential because there would be no discrimination against women on so many issues and platforms.

I'm part of a group of eight women from Southern Africa who planned a session on us being African women telling our own stories at the Women's Networking Zone in the Global Village today. When we got to the women's networking zone I was disappointed by the fact that we were 80% of our audience and there was a loud musical band distracting us so I thought that we won't be able to share our digital stories with anyone what a waste of time. we decided to sing African songs really loud, that speak about power and unity to fight against injustice on women. Then people started coming in numbers to hear what we have to say.

There are about 13 digital stories but we decided to only present three. First by Patience from Zimbabwe how she views her self as a women who is lesbian and how society discriminates and marginalizes her, second by Esther from Namibia her story about how she was robbed of her motherhood by her government health department when they decided to sterilize her without consent because she is HIV positive. Third story by Wala and post-natal depression how the public health system in her country fail women like her who suffer from post-natal depression
At least 70 people listened to our stories and felt the world is failing African women every single day, but most people were happy there we were there to tell our own stories in our own way.

The experience was empowering for me. It was my first time facilitating at an international AIDS conference. I am more than ready now to attend the rest of the conference and engage critically on issues relating to women especially in Africa.

 Lisa again: the most powerful responses to Sindi and the other women came from a Mexican transgender who told me "i can feel the power with these women. I only want to sit here and listen to them all day."   Two African men committed their solidarity -- saying that they would do whatever they could to fight "this oppression of their African sisters."

In closing, the official inauguration at the National Auditorium in downtown Mexico City. An all star cast included the President of Mexico, the UN Secretary General, the VP of Spain and 4 other important and powerful AIDS leaders, yet it was an HIV+ 13 year old girl from Honduras who's shaking voice and personal plea stole the show and had the place cheering with a standing ovation. Honorable mention goes to the amazing mariachi band and the gorgeous and talented Folkloric Ballet.

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by JASS on August 2, 2008 at 6:11 pm
By Ana Luisa

Marcha Contra Estigma, Discriminacion, y Homophobia

We all made it to Mexico City last night, many exhausted from the grueling cross-Atlantic journey, but happy to see each other and excited for the upcoming week of events around AIDS 2008. We are staying in a beautiful area, La Zona Rosa, and looking forward to exploring this amazing and enormous city. Today we had our orientation meeting, and it was the first time the JASS Africans and Latinas met face to face and exchanged personal and political stories. Everyone was moved and energized by this connection.  We spoke about how the AIDS 2008 space is dominated by the same actors who dominate the global AIDS agenda, mainly governmental organizations, massive foundations, corporations, and pharmaceutical companies. Decisions are made by the predominantly male, Global North, technical and corporate perspective. Women's voices are not heard in this space.  We strategized on ways we can enter this space, and have our collective voice heard to bring HIV positive women's issues to the forefront of the agenda.    

Then we participated in the March against Stigma, Homophobia and Discrimination. We donned our Women Crossing the Line t-shirts and made posters with slogans we came up with during the orientation.  It was a moving and exciting event culminating in a lively rally on the Zocalo, the huge central plaza of the city. 

Tonight we will continue to meet and plan our strategy for the upcoming week, as well as go out on the town!!

Marcha Contra Estigma, Discrimincacion y Homophobia           Marcha Contra Estigma, Discrimincacion y Homophobia

Marcha Contra Estigma, Discrimincacion y Homophobia           Marcha Contra Estigma, Discrimincacion y Homophobia

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