HIV/AIDS

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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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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Access to healthcare - HIV+ women are dependent on the failing infrastructure for information, treatment including ARVs, and care.
The reunion with the women we have been working with in Malawi was emotional. Tiwonge, who has been involved since the beginning in 2007, lifted me up in the air as if I was a piece of paper. She is very strong. There were lots of hugs, tears and kisses. It was a reunion of body and spirit.
Hope Chigudu shares reflections about building women’s voice in Malawi and powerful stories of the ways in which grassroots women internalize the power framework and use it to challenge, resist and rebel against various forms of oppression and violence in their own lives and, literally, Cross the Line.
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At a dynamic kick-off workshop late 2010, JASS gathered faith-based leaders living with HIV, lesbian activists, youth organizing for sexual and reproductive rights and feminist IT facilitators to forge a powerful collaboration to build movements for women’s rights throughout Southern Africa. This new partnership breaks through categories and “issue silos” – but to what end? A bold and comprehensive strategy fuels this initiative.
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Organizing is a long-term, often slow process requiring lots of patience. So when an event happens that feels like a giant leap forward for a small part of womankind---it’s very exciting. It also affirms the big payoff of sustained investment in dialogue, reflection, training, and group building. That’s how we at JASS feel about the launch of a new young women’s organization—Generation Alive!—that has emerged from our work there.
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At the 11th AWID International Forum on Women’s Rights and Development (November 14, 2008, in Cape Town), Geeta Misra painted the landscape for ‘The Power of Movements’ by suggesting five common elements amongst movements: a feeling of injustice; an understanding of oppression as a political condition; the desire to change political conditions or to shift power; the belief in the power of many; and the presence of the powerless.
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The latest dispatch from Hope Chigudu, this time from the North of Malawi, with Sindi Blose It’s difficult to know people till you meet them in their environment. The workshop situation can present what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian writer, calls, “The Danger of a Single Story”:
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This time we moved from the workshop rooms to the communities. We are humbly learning from the experience of the those who live on the margin, from their perspective, from their perseverance, from their assertiveness, from their desire to make something of their lives, from their love for one another and their determination to survive the ravages of HIV and AIDS. The ‘graduates’ of JASS whose projects we have visited, so far, are implementing their plans.
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