Women's Stories

Hope Chigudu and the JASS Southern Africa team gathered Malawian women's stories to give a glimpse of work on the ground in Malawi, the shifts that the women have made to change their lives and the dilemma of monitoring and evaluating the shifts. This series of stories demonstrates that there are parallels and connections, and points of intersection between the oppression of HIV+ women in Malawi, and social and cultural expectation and poverty.  These elements actually overlap and reinforce each other.
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Hope Chigudu and the JASS Southern Africa team gathered Malawian women's stories to give a glimpse of work on the ground in Malawi, the shifts that the women have made to change their lives and the dilemma of monitoring and evaluating the shifts. This series of stories demonstrates that there are parallels and connections, and points of intersection between the oppression of HIV+ women in Malawi, and social and cultural expectation and poverty.  These elements actually overlap and reinforce each other.
Keywords:
Hope Chigudu and the JASS Southern Africa team gathered Malawian women's stories to give a glimpse of work on the ground in Malawi, the shifts that the women have made to change their lives and the dilemma of monitoring and evaluating the shifts. This series of stories demonstrates that there are parallels and connections, and points of intersection between the oppression of HIV+ women in Malawi, and social and cultural expectation and poverty.  These elements actually overlap and reinforce each other.
Keywords:
I sold my first pair of sandals when I was five years old. I was raised on the streets of the city market in Tegucigalpa and I attended school far from my home but only a few blocks away from my refuge – the busy market stalls with their constant noise and rush of people. It was not an easy life, and I was shaped forever by school and the marketplace. The only stability in my life was the instability: I lived in different places to escape the problems my father exposed me to when he abandoned me. However, I was not alone, I was never alone.
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I come from a militant leftist family that always spoke about equality between men and women, although, like many leftist families, we faced challenges when combining theory and practice. These contradictions in my family and later in development and human rights organizations, showed me that equality is not a given – instead, it must be built, which isn’t easy in such a deeply machista society.
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In the safe spaces that JASS Southern Africa creates, Malawian women have found growing confidence to tell their own stories, even when these concern taboos. While a great many women are involved in transactional or survival sex, the power of stigma prevents them from being open about it. Gradually, however, this too is changing. Sarah (not her real name) bravely shares her story with us in her own words.
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Maria Mustika learned first-hand the isolation and trauma that comes from shame and stigma in families and communities. Her LBTI activism (lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex) is grounded in her personal experience of coming out as a lesbian. For more than ten years, she has been taking the lid off sex and sexuality in her community. First, as part of community outreach for Gaya Nusantara – one of the most vocal and visible gay rights organizations in Indonesia – Maria supported other young people kicked out of their homes and circles of friends because of their sexual orientation.
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Vanna, as she is known, has walked quite a path with JASS Southeast Asia so far. It makes sense that this path led her to join with others from the local JASS circle to start a young women’s network in Cambodia. Vanna was among the participants at the first JASS Southeast Asia regional gathering, an inspiring process held on the shores of Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Before this, Vanna’s work with a local NGO in Phnom Penh left her feeling somewhat removed, using other women’s stories to highlight issues in advocacy around women’s needs.
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The F-word, “feminism,” is taboo in some spaces and arouses mistrust and criticism. That was true for Zimbabwean activist and sceptic, Fadzai Muparutsa, who spends her days doing advocacy around the L-word in “LGBTI” – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex.
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JASS SEA alum, Kamilia Manaf, was recently interviewed about the launch of a comic strip designed to teach LGBTQI youth about their rights using Yogyakarta principles. Her organization, the Indonesian Youth Lesbian Center is well-known for its cretaive use of ICTs to make LGBTQI rights accessible to a wide range of audiences.
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