Women Crossing the Line - JASS Southern Africa

Jamillah Katombo
, Zambia

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.
Hellen Matsvisi
, Zimbabwe

Young Zimbabwean feminist writer shares how her mother’s resilience inspires her to write women’s stories: "When I tell my mother’s story, I tell it with power and courage, not from the point of view of a sobbing, helpless and defeated being. She is a role model and an inspiration. But most importantly, she is the hero of her own story and not just a victim."
Rudo Chigudu
, Zimbabwe

"The things that I now recognize as activism are things I’ve been doing for years. Questioning basic things like the hierarchies in school and the home – recognizing injustices, getting angry about them, and then in small ways starting to do something about them. When you know something’s wrong, you say something because you can’t be silent."
Nobuhle Moyo
, Zimbabwe

“I feel like I have choices. Like whether or not I want to bear children. Feminism has allowed me to think that there’s more than doing what you’re ‘supposed’ to do — you have a right to choose.”
Nana Zulu
, Zambia

It’s not easy to identify yourself as a feminist in Zambia. You risk violent backlash or isolation in your community, workplace, and relationships. For Nana Zulu, her first contact with JASS in 2009 raised the question: What does it mean to be a feminist in Zambia today?
, Malawi

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. The failure of the male to live up to the societal and family expectations and the recognition of his own failure is a potentially powerful basis for violence.