HIV/AIDS

This beautiful new Barefoot Guide, published by JASS-ally The Barefoot Guide Connection, dedicates Chapter 1 to JASS’ movement building work with HIV+ women organizing for health justice in Malawi.
HIV/AIDS: What Does "Access" Really Mean? The 21st International AIDS Conference kicked off in Durban, South Africa, and gathered 18,000 people including scientists, researchers, policymakers and celebrities around the theme, Access and Equity. However, the conference’s high registration and participation fee meant that the majority most affected by HIV particularly, poor women, were excluded from attending.
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“I now know how to use a tablet which is not a norm in Malawi because [many believe] tablets cannot and should not be used by a local woman like me,” says woman activist leader Jessie Mwale of Mzimba, Malawi. “But because [of this skill I am empowered and I have knowledge.”  Mobile phones in the hands of women activist leaders can be powerful tools to drive movements and campaigns. Because mobile phones are a personal part of our daily lives, they have the potential to reach and impact thousands more people.
It is hard to conceive the magnitude of what Malawian women activist leaders with whom JASS works and the hundreds of women they represent in their communities have accomplished through their organising and the Our Bodies, Our Lives Campaign for Better ARVs. Let's take a look at the story beyond the numbers.
In 2013, we lost a courageous leader in our community– Jamillah Katombo–an outspoken HIV+ Muslim grassroots activist. Jamillah dedicated her life to breaking the silence around HIV/AIDS in her community in Zambia, organizing scores of women to speak up about their status and demand access to quality treatment. We honor her by sharing her story.
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“If you want women’s votes in 2014 put 75 billion on the table for better ARVs,” was the challenge that Malawian activist leaders put on the table in the run-up to the general elections on May 20. While Malawi’s bid to ensure 50% representation of women in politics was not realized in this election cycle, HIV positive women activists stood up boldly to voice their demands to presidential and parliamentary candidates.
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"The effects of rape mostly affect women; who because of their biological make-up get easily infected with HIV, they get bruised and hurt in the process, they live with permanent hurt and shame, and worse still, in a country where abortion is a crime, they are forced to live with unwanted children of rape, a permanent reminder of the erosion of their dignity."
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When a woman has been living life like that of ‘[a] rat on a treadmill,’ tired and resigned; in a state of hopelessness, helplessness and despair, on the brink of giving up—it is hard to see a way out.
The latest reinstatement and expansion of the Global Gag Rule by President Donald Trump has far-reaching impacts, especially for women in the Global South. Read their response here.
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